Tyler woman indicted after leaving infant in closet for three hours

Tyler woman indicted after leaving infant in closet for three hoursSMITH COUNTY — Kelsey Paige Frazier, 26, of Tyler, was indicted by Smith County grand jury, after she left an infant abandoned and strapped in a baby bouncer for about three hours in October 2020. According to our news partner KETK, Frazier was charged with abandonment/endangering a child and causing imminent danger with bodily injury. Her bond was set at $150,000. According to the Smith County Sheriff’s Office, 11-month-old Addison was left in a garage apartment at the 11000 block of County Road 2249 on Oct 3. A friend of Frazier arrived at the residence and heard the dog barking inside of the apartment. When she went inside, she heard the infant crying. The woman found the baby in the baby bouncer and she messaged the parents on Facebook. The child was later reunited with her parents.

19 burned bodies found near Mexico-US border town

CIUDAD VICTORIA, Mexico (AP) — Mexican authorities say they’ve found 19 shot and burned bodies near a town across the Rio Grande from Texas. It’s an area that has seen violent territorial disputes between organized crime groups in recent years. The Tamaulipas state prosecutor’s office said late Saturday that the bodies were discovered along a dirt road outside Camargo after residents reported a burning vehicle. Authorities found two vehicles on fire, one containing four bodies and the other 15. All had been shot, but shells were not found in the place, leading investigators to believe they were killed somewhere else.


Increase in COVID-19 deaths slows somewhat in Texas

AUSTIN (AP) — The Texas health department has reported a decrease in the number of new deaths due to COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. There were 407 additional deaths reported Saturday following three consecutive days of more than 1,200 new deaths. Data from Johns Hopkins University shows the seven-day rolling average of deaths in Texas has risen during the past two weeks from 260.57 per day to 326.14. The state health department on Sunday reported more than 11,000 new or probable cases in the state for a total of 1.96 million cases since the pandemic began.


Average US price of gas up 10 cents a gallon to $2.45

CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) — The average U.S. price of regular-grade gasoline jumped 10 cents a gallon over the past two weeks to $2.45. Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey said Sunday that a rise in crude oil prices since November is behind the increase. The price at the pump is 15 cents less than it was a year ago. The highest average price in the nation is $3.46 a gallon in the San Francisco Bay Area. The lowest average is $2.07 in Houston. The average price of diesel went up 5 cents over the same period to $2.70.


Sen. Paul does not unequivocally say 2020 election wasn’t stolen

Greg Nash/The Hill/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesBY: JACK ARNHOLZ, ABC NEWS

(WASHINGTON) — Days after President Joe Biden took office and the Democrats took control of the U.S. Senate, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., would not unequivocally say Sunday that the 2020 presidential election was not stolen and called for an investigation of fraud, without providing evidence.

"The debate over whether or not there was fraud should occur, we never had any presentation in court where we actually looked at the evidence. Most of the cases were thrown out for lack of standing, which is a procedural way of not actually hearing the question," Paul said on ABC's "This Week.”

"Sen. Paul, I have to stop you there," ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos interjected.

"No election is perfect," Stephanopoulos continued, through interruptions by Paul. "After investigations, counts and recounts, the Department of Justice -- led by (Trump-appointed Attorney General) William Barr -- said there's no widespread evidence of fraud. Can't you just say the words: 'This election was not stolen?'"

Paul responded, "What I would suggest is that if we want greater confidence in our elections -- and 75% of Republicans agree with me -- is that we do need to look at election integrity."

He also did not acknowledge former President Donald Trump's role in sowing doubts about the election.

The majority of the court cases filed by the Trump campaign were thrown out due to lack of evidence. Across the country, secretaries of state, both Republican and Democrat, and federal officials -- including Barr -- have all said that there was no evidence of widespread fraud or security concerns in November's election.

When challenged by Stephanopoulos on Barr's denial of widespread fraud, Paul pushed back.

"He said that, yes. That was a pronouncement. There's been no examination -- thorough examination -- of all the states to see what problems we had and see if they could fix them," he said.

"There were lots of problems and there were secretaries of state, who illegally changed the law and that needs to be fixed, and I'm going to work harder to fix it and I will not be cowed by people saying 'oh, you're a liar,'" Paul told Stephanopoulos.

Stephanopoulos responded, "I'm standing by facts. There are not two sides to facts. I did not say this was a perfect election, I said the results were certified, I said it was not stolen. It is a lie.”

While Paul was one of the many Republican politicians who repeated Trump's unfounded allegations of voter fraud, the Kentucky senator did not object to the certification of the electoral college and has said previously that he thinks Congress should not overturn results.

"Now, let me say to be clear, I voted to certify the state electors because I think it would be wrong for Congress to overturn that," he said.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., responded to Paul's remarks in a separate interview on "This Week."

"As I listened to Rand Paul, George, I just kept thinking, 'man, this is why Joe Biden won,'" she told Stephanopoulos.

"American people right now are struggling. They need pandemic relief," Klobuchar continued. "I thoroughly believe that we can handle this impeachment trial and -- just as the American people are doing -- juggle what we need to get done.

With less than a week since Biden's swearing in, the article of impeachment against Trump is set to be delivered to the Senate Monday and the trial is expected to begin the week of Feb. 8. Senate Democrats are trying to balance the upcoming proceedings with getting more of Biden's Cabinet picks approved and pushing forward on the president's legislative agenda.

Despite earlier reports that McConnell was pleased with the House of Representatives' impeachment efforts, a growing number of conservative legal experts and Republicans in the Senate have challenged the constitutionality of holding a trial for Trump since he is no longer in office.

Some senators, including Paul, have argued that if Chief Justice John Roberts does not preside over the impeachment trial -- which remains unclear -- the hearings would be illegitimate.

When challenged by Stephanopoulos about those process arguments, Klobuchar said, "It is constitutional. We have precedent from way back when a secretary of war was tried after he had left office and, obviously, there's a remedy that would help in the future which would ban former President Trump from running again.”

With more Republicans touting the lack of constitutional basis for the trial, Stephanopoulos also pressed Klobuchar about whether there were enough GOP senators to vote to convict Trump.

"My colleagues have not yet committed about what they're going to do and the news we just got out of The New York Times yesterday that the president was actually actively trying to take out his own attorney general and put in an unknown bureaucrat conspiring with him. I think we're going to get more and more evidence over the next few weeks as if it's not enough that he's sent an angry mob down the Mall to invade the Capitol -- didn't try to stop it -- and a police officer was killed. I don't really know what else you need to know," the Minnesota senator added.

"Would you pursue, instead, either a censure or some kind of a resolution under the 14th Amendment to prevent President Trump from running for office again?" Stephanopoulos asked.

Klobuchar refused to rule anything out.

"We're focused on impeachment, but there are many options. Things can be looked at. But I think the thing that your viewers need to know right now, George, is that we must do many things at once," she said.

While the Senate debates the impending impeachment trial, also critical on the Democrats' agenda is passing a new coronavirus relief bill -- a key component of Biden's legislative priorities. The president is still pushing for a bipartisan arrangement, despite the fact that many in the GOP -- including moderates like Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine -- have said that the overall $1.9 trillion price tag is too expensive.

Klobuchar pushed back against arguments over the size of the bill, saying "the amount that Joe Biden has proposed, that's exactly the numbers we were talking about last summer. And at some point, the (Trump) administration was talking those numbers."

ABC News' Meg Cunningham and Kelly McCoy contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Independent investigation underway after Tacoma Police officer hits at least 1 pedestrian with patrol car


(TACOMA, Wash.) — An independent investigation is underway after a Tacoma Police Department officer struck at least one pedestrian with his patrol car while trying to clear a crowded scene.

Officers responded to the intersection of South 9th Street and Pacific Avenue in Tacoma around 6 p.m. Saturday night after receiving "numerous reports" of an incident that was occurring there, according to a police press release.

When authorities arrived, there were several vehicles and about 100 people blocking the intersection, police said, but did not provide additional details on the incident. According to ABC Seattle affiliate KOMO-TV, the crowd was watching a "street sideshow.”

Officers then began clearing the intersection, but during the operation, police said people surrounded a police vehicle as the officer was stopped in the street. The officer, "fearing for his safety," then tried to back up but was unable to do so due to the crowd, police said. He then hit at least one pedestrian while trying to escape, police said.

"While trying to extricate himself from an unsafe position, the officer drove forward striking one individual and may have impacted others," the press release states.

A witness wrote on Twitter that the officer was in pursuit of a driver doing burnouts nearby. Video shared by that same witness appeared to show the back tires of a police SUV moving forward running over the victim as the crowd screamed in horror.

Another video posted to the social media site appeared to show the SUV driving into a crowd of people, knocking several over before running over the victim.

The officer then "stopped at a point of safety and called for medical aid," according to police. The victim was transported to an area hospital.

Puyallup Police Capt. Dan Pashon, who is part of the team investigating the incident, told KOMO that two people were transported to the hospital. One victim has been released, and the other remained in the hospital as of Saturday evening, KOMO reported.

Additional information about the victims and their conditions was not immediately available.

The incident has been turned over to the Pierce County Force Investigation Team, which will conduct an independent review, police said.

Tacoma Police interim Chief Mike Ake said in a statement that he is "concerned" that the department is "experiencing another use of deadly force incident."

"I send my thoughts to anyone who was injured in tonight's event, and am committed to our Department's full cooperation in the independent investigation and to assess the actions of the department's response during the incident."

ABC News' Alice Chambers, Ben Jimenez and Timmy Truong contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Station wagons are back. And they’re faster than ever


(NEW YORK) — Audi's RS 6 Avant station wagon has all the luxury trappings and space of any sport utility vehicle on the market. Fill it up with kids, pets, sporting gear, beach chairs, groceries, you name it, there's room.

Stomp on the throttle, however, and brace for liftoff, engine screaming, 22-inch wheels spinning, as you sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds.

This is no ordinary wagon nor the one your parents drove in the 1970s and 1980s (you know, the "lumbering family hauler" that was likely decked out in fake wood and vinyl applique).

Automakers are reinventing wagons behind the scenes, making them stylish, trendy and ridiculously fast even as they crank out SUVs at a dizzying pace. Wagons may never sell outsell SUVs but an increasing number of consumers are choosing them for their cargo space, good looks, driving responses and anti-SUV 'tude.

The RS 6 rivals nearly any supercar and it delivers more joy and driving pleasure than the majority of sports cars Americans buy, enthusiasts declare. With a top speed of 190 mph and a twin-turbo V8 powerplant that produces 591 hp and 590 lb.-ft of torque, the RS 6 can rightfully crow about its performance stats, handling and versatility. Owners can also analyze and record their lap times (err, road times), tire pressure and brake temperatures with Audi's virtual cockpit. Carbon ceramic brakes, a sport exhaust and black optic accents on the grille and side blades give the RS 6 a menacing, macho vibe too.

"Part of the allure of driving this sleeper wagon is that you press a button and it turns into a high performance race car," Anthony Foulk, product manager for the RS 6, told ABC News. "You can see how many G's you pulled.”

Audi's first foray into high performance wagons started in 1994 with the RS 2 Avant. The RS 6 made its grand U.S. entrance last year and 455 units were sold from September to December. Some customers even pre-ordered theirs eight months before the wagon officially went on sale.

"Wagons really stand out," Foulk said. "There is definitely a following. People who buy these don't want something that looks like everything else on the road."

Audi's main competitor is the Mercedes AMG E63 S wagon, a 603 hp ferocious beast that boasts a 0-60 time of 3.4 seconds, a smidgen quicker than the RS 6 (for those keeping tabs). Unlike Audi, Mercedes encourages its E63 owners to show off what a five passenger vehicle is capable of on a track, especially one built with a twin-turbo V8 engine mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission.

"Every year we sell a few hundred E63 S wagons in the U.S.," Brian Cotter, AMG product manager at Mercedes-Benz USA, told ABC News. "The customer is very loyal. It's not a car for everyone but these E63 buyers know exactly what they want.”

Mercedes has sold wagons in the U.S. for more than four decades. Its first AMG version -- the E55 -- did not arrive until model year 2005 (the wagon got a new name, the E63, and larger engine in 2007). The latest iteration of the E63 S comes with aerodynamically optimized 20-inch light-alloy wheels, a reshaped, aggressive grille and front bumper and completely redesigned headlights. The whole suspension was also reworked to give owners a smoother, more comfortable ride, even when they're hurling it around serpentine roads and fast curves. Demand for E63s is particularly high in California and New England, according to Cotter, who lamented that so few wagons are available in the U.S.

"A revival would be exciting," he said. "Performance and dynamics are not sacrificed in wagons even with the utility."

Wagons accounted for 0.15% of U.S. vehicle sales in 2020, according to automotive site Edmunds. Electric vehicles, which are also struggling to catch on with consumers, did slightly better at 1.6%.

"Right now the wagons on the market are truly meant to appeal to die-hard enthusiasts," Ivan Drury, senior manager of insights at Edmunds, told ABC News. "If they become fashionable or less expensive, young people will buy them.”

The RS 6 Avant starts at $109,000. The E63 S has a sticker price of $112,450. Owners can drop another $20,000 to $40,000 on various packages, trims, fancy brakes and custom paint colors.

"The cost is the downside. They're absurdly expensive," Rory Carroll, editor-in-chief of Jalopnik, told ABC News.

The three automakers behind wagons -- Audi, Mercedes and Volvo -- are all luxury marques, Joe Brown, group editorial director at Hearst Autos, pointed out.

"A lot of rich people buy wagons. They're the rich person car," he said. "The customer who buys the E63 S is even richer than the [Mercedes] G-wagen customer."

Carroll, though, sees many advantages of owning a wagon: Better fuel economy, improved safety since they sit lower to the ground and stellar styling versus an SUV.

"Wagon fans are begging, 'Please help us make a market for this,'" he said with a laugh. "Wagons are different -- they're an expressed a kind of connoisseurship. They play an outsized role in the minds of enthusiasts."

American families happily drove wagons in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Elegant, functional and easily identifiable with a sleek, long hood, wagons were the premier mode of transportation -- until automakers unveiled their latest conveyance.

"Wagons fell off the wagon when minivans became the more practical solution," Eric Minoff, a specialist in the motoring department at Bonhams, told ABC News. "They were maligned as a 'mom car' which has never been a super popular aspirational vehicle."

Minivans ultimately got the same treatment as wagons, shunned by motorists who sought a "tough brawny look" and higher viewpoint in SUVs, Minoff noted.

"When people's opinions on SUVs change, wagons may come back," Minoff said. "Right now it's a narrow but very ravenous market. Wagons are a wink and nod thing. You can slip around the radar and drive it around and enjoy it. Other fellow lunatics will appreciate and love what it is."

Brown argues that crossovers, the smaller cousins of SUVs, are actually "wagons in disguise."

"They're vehicles built on a sedan platform -- a lot like a wagon but jacked up," he said.

The RS 6 Avant and E63 S are not the only options available for consumers interested in wagon culture. Audi also makes the A4 allroad ($44,600) and A6 allroad ($65,900), the latter of which is geared for the outdoorsy, rugged types. Mercedes' E450 All-Terrain wagon ($67,600) may not be blisteringly fast but drivers will still be pleased with the output from the turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six engine.

Subaru denies that its celebrated Outback SUV is, well, a wagon, though any consumer or enthusiast would disagree. The company does build one wagon, the chiseled Levorg. It's just not sold in the U.S.

Some of the best-known and lauded wagons of all-time come from Sweden. Volvo's wagon heritage dates back to 1953 with the release of the Duett, the first Volvo wagon and the foundation for future models. The company currently offers five wagons, including the plug-in hybrid $67,300 V60 Recharge, a "halo car" that produces 415 hp and 494 lb.-ft of torque (0-60 time is an impressive 4.3 seconds).

Wagons represent 6.5% of Volvo's business and the best-selling version is the $45,450 V60 Cross Country.

"The Cross Country was about keeping the utility of wagon and adding the capability of an SUV in a low silhouette. That proved remarkably successful for us," Frank Vacca, head of product planning at Volvo, told ABC News.

In 2001, Volvo delivered 42,000 wagons to U.S. customers, the most the company has ever sold. Last year Volvo moved nearly 6,200 wagons, up from 4,200 in 2019. Vacca, who admittedly has a "soft spot" for wagons, said consumers will decide the longevity of wagons with their pocketbooks. In the meantime, "we're happy to sell them," he said.

"Wagon owners tend to be Volvo loyalists," he pointed out. "Wagons retain Volvo owners.”

Stefan Chodkowski loved his father's sporty, maroon Volvo wagon so much that he decided to buy one for his growing family two years ago. The 34-year-old Boca Raton resident traded his Porsche 911 sports car for the Mercedes E63 S -- the "godfather of wagons" as he calls it.

"That Volvo planted the seed," he told ABC News. "We took it skiing, surfing, snowboarding, everywhere."

Chodkowski waited months for his $140,000 custom built wagon to arrive from Germany. Now it's become the consummate family car.

"I've gone to Home Depot, filled up the back with balloons and flower arrangements and put a Christmas tree inside," he said. "I am about to wedge a second car seat in the back."

Chodkowski said driving his family around in a hulking or garden-variety SUV was never an option.

"I did not want to get an SUV when my wife was pregnant. I'm a car guy at heart," he said. "The coolest dad move possible is to get an AMG wagon."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Early indications show honeymoon period for Biden administration: POLL

Ken Cedeno/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesBY: KENDALL KARSON, ABC NEWS

(LONDON) — President Joe Biden is held in high regard by most Americans, according to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll released Sunday, as he takes the reins of a divided country in the midst of a once-in-a-century pandemic and economic crisis.

In his first week in the Oval Office, Biden yielded high approval ratings for his response to the coronavirus (69%) and confidence in his ability to unify the country (57%). The new poll was conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News using Ipsos' Knowledge Panel.

Biden's early honeymoon period is a sharp departure from the underwhelming initial response former President Donald Trump received four years ago.

In a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, Biden's score for handling the transition landed at 67%, nearly 30 points higher than his predecessor just before his inauguration.

Trump's lackluster marks broke with the pattern for newly elected presidents, who usually enjoy high approval ratings in their first months in office.

For Biden, starting his tenure as commander-in-chief in a honeymoon period might afford him more room to maneuver on policy, particularly on his administration's colossal challenge: COVID-19.

The more than two-thirds of Americans who approve of his leadership on the coronavirus includes 40% of Republicans -- a notably high level of support from across the aisle a year into the pandemic. An overwhelming 97% of Democrats and 70% of independents also back Biden's management of the crisis in his early days in office.

The highest approval Trump received for his handling of the virus was in mid-March last year, when 55% of Americans approved of his response, including 30% of Democrats. But for virtually all of the pandemic, Trump was underwater with the American public on his handling of COVID-19.

As Biden faces a collection of crises, starting with the nation's war against the coronavirus, he signed an executive order on his first day in office that implemented a mask mandate and social distancing requirements in federal buildings and on federal land. The order is backed by more than 8 in 10 Americans in the poll (81%), as well as almost all Democrats (99%), and majorities of Republicans (59%) and independents (83%).

But honeymoons rarely last, and the poll revealed several fault lines that could erode Biden's broad early support.

Americans are a bit more wary of Biden's ability to make effective progress on his signature campaign promise: to unify a splintered nation.

As part of the survey, respondents were shown a video excerpt of Biden's inaugural address, in which the newly sworn-in president invoked a familiar theme from his campaign that focused on mending a deeply fractured nation.

"We can see each other not as adversaries, but as neighbors. We can treat each other with dignity and respect. We can join forces, stop the shouting and lower the temperature. For without unity, there is no peace -- only bitterness and fury. No progress -- only exhausting outrage. No nation -- only a state of chaos," Biden said. "This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge. And unity is the path forward. And we must meet this moment as the United States of America."

While 71% of those who viewed the video clip believed Biden's rhetoric was convincing, in contrast, just over 1 in 5 Americans (22%) have a great deal of confidence in the president's ability to actually unify the country. Nearly one-quarter (24%) are deeply skeptical of Biden's capacity to bring the country together.

On Day One, the president rolled out a first slate of executive actions -- charting his own course with policy steps that clear majorities of Americans back in the poll. But there is some variance in the level of support for each one.

Some of the dividing lines that could potentially imperil Biden's agenda are forming around specific policy goals that overlap with issues Trump touted during his campaign and four years in office.

The potentially most fraught terrain for Biden to find common ground on is the issue of immigration, in which support for the directives addressing the Trump-era Muslim ban and the border wall plummet among Republicans.

While more than half of Americans support reversing certain moves by the former president -- including the travel ban that targeted Muslim and African countries (55%), the construction of a wall at the southern border (55%), the exclusion of noncitizens from the U.S. Census (56%) and an effort to dismantle the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program (65%) -- Republicans are sharply opposed to such actions.

More than 3 in 4 Republicans oppose Biden's executive orders to reverse the Muslim ban (78%), end the national emergency declaration at the U.S. southern border to stop construction of the wall (87%) and exclude noncitizens from the Census count (81%). Nearly two-thirds (66%) are against extending DACA.

After Trump withdrew from the Paris climate accords and cut ties with the World Health Organization, roughly one-third of the country opposes Biden's decision to recommit to the climate agreement and rejoin the global health agency, driven by steepened Republican opposition. About 6 in 10 Republicans (61%) are against returning to WHO, and 72% are opposed to signing onto the Paris Agreement again.

But for broader actions by the newly installed Democratic administration targeting social justice and workplace discrimination, support is more widespread and bipartisan.

Roughly 8 in 10 Americans back Biden's directives prohibiting discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity (83%) and creating a government-wide approach to equity, civil rights, racial justice and equal opportunity (77%). That includes 64% and 52% of Republicans, respectively.

This ABC News/Ipsos poll was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs' KnowledgePanel® Jan. 22 to 23, 2021, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 504 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 5.0 points, including the design effect. Partisan divisions are 31%-26%-36%, Democrats-Republicans-independents. See the poll's topline results and details on the methodology here.

ABC News' Dan Merkle and Ken Goldstein contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

FBI: Texas man’s posts from Capitol riot lead to his arrest

DALLAS (AP) — Authorities have arrested a 22-year-old Texas man who investigators say posted videos on social media that showed him taking part in the U.S. Capitol riots earlier this month. According to The Dallas Morning News, Nolan Bernard Cooke, of Savoy, was arrested Thursday after authorities executed a search warrant at his home. An FBI agent says Cooke posted pictures and video of the insurrection to multiple social media accounts. Authorities say Cooke admitted pushing past police but he denied going inside the Capitol building. It’s unclear whether he has an attorney who could comment on the charges he faces.


Couple finds body behind house under construction in Texas

KATY (AP) — A couple has found the body of a dead man while looking at a new house under construction in Texas. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office says the body was discovered in a drainage ditch late Saturday afternoon behind the home in Katy. A spokesman says the body appears to have been in the ditch for several days. The man has not been identified. It’s unclear how he died. An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death. Investigators plan to look at footage from nearby security cameras in search of clues about how the man died.


Yemen, on brink of collapse, may suffer further after Trump decision on Ansar Allah


(LONDON) — At 4 months old, all Hussain Al-Kholani has ever known is war and want -- he weighs just 4 1/2 pounds, less than a third of the average American baby at that age.

"Hussain's suffered from malnutrition since he was born," Ali Hussein Al-Kholani, the boy's father, told ABC News. "They tell me to take him to the malnutrition clinic in [Yemen's capital of] Sanaa, but I don't have any way to get him there."

Ali Hussein can't work and is forced to feed his family -- his son, daughter, wife and four brothers -- by relying on food handouts from aid agencies. They live in a small hut at the edge of Al-Dahi, a sprawling refugee camp for internally displaced people in the northern province of Hajah. He can't afford to buy his youngest child diapers, let alone travel across the poverty-stricken country to get him treatment.

The story of the Al-Kholani family isn't unique: Some 2 million children require treatment for severe malnutrition, with at least 360,000 at risk of dying, according to the World Food Program. For almost six years of conflict, aid workers have desperately struggled to deliver supplies and medical support to the now 24.3 million Yemenis -- a staggering 80% of the total population -- in need of humanitarian aid.

Added now to the protracted crisis is a new risk of rapid deterioration: One of President Donald Trump's final acts in office -- designating the Houthi militant group Ansar Allah as a "Foreign Terrorist Organization" -- may prevent aid agencies from working in much of the country, and, in the words of one U.S. senator, constitutes a "death sentence for millions.”


The situation in Yemen already has been categorized by the World Health Organization as the "world's worst humanitarian crisis." The origins of the conflict are complicated, emerging from the instability of the Arab Spring, but the war has raged since 2015, with both sides suspected of committing war crimes. The Saudis in particular have received international criticism, with the U.S. and U.K. continuing to export arms to the Kingdom, despite accusations that the weapons repeatedly have been used to target hospitals and civilian sites.

Fighting between the Iran-backed Houthi militia and the Saudi-backed government has reached a broad stalemate. The Houthi militia now controls large swaths of the country, while the Saudi-backed government is based in Aden and recognized by the international community.

The most recent incident of violence saw 25 people killed and 110 wounded in a missile attack at an airport in Aden, a city in the south, which Yemen's internationally recognized government blamed on the Houthis -- a reminder that both sides are far from anything resembling a diplomatic settlement. The Houthis denied responsibility for the blast, The Guardian reported.

The country is at a breaking point. In the first six months of 2021, about 16.2 million people, half the total population, are forecast to face "acute levels of food insecurity," according to the WFP, which needs at least $1.9 billion to provide a minimum level of food assistance to avert famine. The UN group is now saying conditions this year are likely to be worse than in 2018, the last time Yemen experienced famine-like conditions.

"How are they going to get food?" David Beasley, the group's executive director, asked the United Nations Security Council last week. "How are they going to get fuel? How are they going to get medicine? It is going to be a catastrophe ... we're going to have a catastrophe on our hands."

Last month, UNICEF warned that Yemen is "teetering on the edge of collapse" and "is perhaps the most dangerous place on Earth to be a child."

"One child dies every 10 minutes from a preventable disease," Executive Director Henrietta Fore said. "Two million are out of school. And thousands have been killed, maimed or recruited since 2015."

For Hussain, and 12 million other children, daily life is a "waking nightmare" – with conflicts seen taking place across 49 different front lines, the group said. As of last year, according to the WFP, 1 million pregnant or breastfeeding women require treatment.

At a malnutrition clinic in Bani Hassan hospital in Hajjah province, Dr. Ali Hajer told ABC News that the food inventory at the center was "zero," as aid supplies had been disrupted over the past few months.

"The war of Yemen destroyed everything, such as economics, health and the living situation in Yemen," he told ABC News. "This assistance is very important. If this humanitarian aid stops for the Yemeni people and the Yemeni children, there will be a huge catastrophe."

COVID-19 is making the situation even more difficult for health workers and humanitarian agencies. As of Jan. 19, there have been 2,119 confirmed cases and 615 deaths, but the WHO is bracing for a second wave at a time when only half of the health facilities in the country are fully or partially functioning. Over the past few years, Yemen has experienced what the WHO called the worst cholera outbreak of modern times, as well as further outbreaks of diphtheria, dengue fever, measles and malaria.


The situation is at risk of deteriorating further. On Jan 12, the United States officially designated Ansar Allah as an FTO, in response to its alleged "terrorist acts, including cross-border attacks threatening civilian populations, infrastructure, and commercial shipping," former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement ahead of the designation, adding that the move was "intended to advance efforts to achieve a peaceful, sovereign, and united Yemen that is both free from Iranian interference and at peace with its neighbors."

But the FTO designation now means it's illegal for individuals or groups to provide "material or resources" to Ansar Allah, meaning that without official exemptions, no outside agencies can provide aid to large swathes of the country under their rule.

Aid organizations have said that, in effect, the ruling could make their work impossible to carry out, with supply lines and access already at constant risk of constant disruption. Additionally, they said, the FTO designation won't quell terrorism.

Amanda Cantanzano, senior director for International Programs Policy and Advocacy at the International Rescue Committee, told ABC News that the IRC was "outraged by the decision."

"We see it as something that will create barriers such that it will be nearly impossible for us to effectively and efficiently deliver aid to those in need. And that would be a crisis anywhere. But in Yemen, it is a catastrophe," she told ABC News.

Kirsten Fontenrose, a former NSC senior director for Gulf Affairs, told ABC News that the designation was considered but not pursued in the early years of the Trump administration due to a number of factors. The UN advised that the designation would "make it impossible" to pursue a political settlement in Yemen, but eventually the administration found that Ansar Allah was both "taking advantage of the room to operate to conduct additional terrorist organizations" and "exploiting this vulnerability in the aid community," members of which would oppose the designation.

"Ansar Allah will make sure this designation makes aid work harder," Fontenrose told ABC News. "They want to amplify the voices opposed to the designation, so they need to make the impact look as dire as they can."

Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, however, said political sabotage was a more likely motive.

UN Security Council members have warned there can be "no military solution to the conflict." Martin Griffiths, the UN special envoy for Yemen, said the FTO designation may have a "chilling effect" on bringing the parties together for dialogue.

"What's hard is that the language of the FTO legislation is not meant to apply to a quasi-governmental organization," Jon Alternam, director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told ABC News. "So it's very sweeping about how you can't have anything to do with these kind of people. ... The Houthis control well over half the population of Yemen. This isn't like dealing with Al Qaeda."

"This isn't to say that the Houthis don't do outrageous things, this isn't to say the Houthis don't endanger civilians all the time -- they do," he said. "But how do you get to a settlement if you criminalize ordinary contact with them?"

Antony Blinken, Biden's nominee for secretary of state, has said that the new administration will "immediately review" the designation. But that may include a fairly complex legal process, and it could take some time to sort out, according to Alternam. Murphy told ABC News that this period could be crucial as Yemenis continue to suffer.

"This is a death sentence for millions of Yemenis because they are, over the course of the next several weeks, going to run out of food and are going to starve to death," Murphy said. "It's that simple. And the fact that the Trump administration went forward with this designation, knowing that that would be the consequence, is absolutely devastating. It's heartbreaking. It's mind-blowing."

For the likes of Hussain and his family, there is no end in sight -- and everyday decisions just get harder and harder.

"[We have] only one food basket from World Food Program," Hussain's father said. "We either sell it to treat the boy. Or take it home so we can eat."

ABC News' Ahmed Baider and Conor Finnegan contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Turbulent week of weather ahead with 3 different storms tracking across US


(NEW YORK) — A turbulent week of weather is ahead with three different major storms expected to track across the United States.

The two biggest takeaways form this extremely active weather pattern includes the increasing likelihood of a long-duration heavy rain and snow event coming to California that could have major impacts to the state.

Already this morning a quick hit of snow is moving through the upper Midwest and is quickly dropping 1 to 3 inches of snow.

The quick round of snow brought hazardous travel conditions to I-80 in Nebraska on Saturday night where ABC News affiliate KETV is reporting an accident caused two deaths and one injury after a car crossed the median and collided with a semi-truck.

There are winter weather alerts being issued this morning with more certainly to be issued in the coming hours.

A storm will bring some more mountain snow and valley rain in the Southern Rockies later Sunday and into Monday.

It will bring snow and ice to parts of the central Plains and Midwest and some additional severe weather will be possible across parts of northern Texas and Oklahoma where, locally, damaging winds and hail will be possible.

By Monday night, the snow and wintry mix will stretch from Iowa to New Jersey with the heaviest snow falling from northern Kansas into parts of Illinois.

Chicago, in particular, could quickly pile up several inches of snow on Monday night and a wintry mix is likely to cause slick roadways from Indianapolis to the Appalachian mountains.

As the storm slides east, it will have some trouble producing snow near the major northeast cities and this likely means that snowfall amounts near Philadelphia and New York will be kept in the low range.

On the snowfall forecast, locally over 6 inches of snow is expected from western Kansas to Chicago and a few areas of 3 to 6 inches is possible from the Kansas-Nebraska Border to Ohio.

It is important to note that the snow totals look quite low near the major northeast Cities and Chicago could easily pick up over 6 inches of snow from this storm on Monday night.

Another storm will quickly move into the western U.S. on Sunday and bring widespread mountain snow and heavy rain from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

Locally, 10 inches of snow will be possible in the southern California mountains later Sunday and Monday which could make travel very treacherous.

As this storm moves across the country, it will bring another quick hit of snow to parts of the Midwest.

Once this storm reaches the East Coast, it remains unclear just how intense the storm will be and exactly where this storm will track.

Some computer models are indicating that a rather powerful storm will develop near the mid-Atlantic and bring at least some snow to the mid-Atlantic states by Thursday.

Given that the models aren’t in agreement on some of the most important details of this setup, uncertainty remains high at this time.

Also by the middle of the week, another separate storm will arrive in California and, as of Sunday morning, this storm looks to be the most concerning.

The storm will bring an atmospheric river of moisture to California that will bring torrential rain and extreme mountain snow for the second half of the week.

One of the biggest concerns is that California saw five of its top six fires by acreage in its history in 2020 and there is a tremendous amount of land there that is susceptible to debris flows and mudslides.

Additionally, there is an excessive rainfall forecast for the week and the region will become more susceptible to flash flooding with locally over 10 inches of snow possible in California this week alone.

Several feet of snow could make travel through mountain passes impossible and quite dangerous.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

7,000 National Guardsmen to remain in Washington through mid-March

Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesBy LUIS MARTINEZ, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- Up to 7,000 National Guardsmen will remain in Washington for about seven more weeks to assist federal law enforcement agencies concerned over potential domestic disturbances, the Guard's top general said.

"We're looking at probably mid-March right now," Gen. Daniel Hokanson told reporters on Saturday.

The size of that force can be adjusted depending on requests from local law enforcement agencies, he added. Whether the remaining guardsmen will continue will be armed decided by federal law enforcement.

A U.S. official told ABC News that the agencies were seeing "chatter" among extremist groups discussing potential disturbances in the nation's capital.

As for the troops making up the 7,000, Hokanson added: "Some of them will be the folks that are already here. Some states are actually going to rotate other folks, and we're working very closely with the states to determine that next."

Hokanson made his comments as he carried out his daily visit with the guardsmen who are securing the Capitol. At the spacious Capitol Visitors Center, he also met with guardsmen from Indiana and Virginia, who were taking a short break, and asked them if they were getting everything they needed.

On Friday, guardsmen were once again allowed to use the facility for rest periods after the public outcry generated by photos that showed them resting inside an unheated parking garage. The use of the garage occurred after a request was made to the Guard that they stop using indoor locations on Capitol grounds.

Hokanson also confirmed that fewer than 200 of the 25,000 National Guardsmen who provided security on Inauguration Day had contracted COVID-19, an infection rate lower than 1%.

"We do everything we can, but we do think that number is low," said Hokanson. The infected guardsmen will remain in Washington while sick as some of the 25,000 who were on hand for Inauguration Day began returning to their home states on Saturday.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

One dead after single-vehicle crash in Tyler, driver of car still missing

One dead after single-vehicle crash in Tyler, driver of car still missingTYLER — One person died after single-vehicle crash in Tyler Saturday morning. According to our news partner KETK, just before 1:00, police were called to the scene on West Queen after a car had veered off the street and crashed into a fence in the backyard of a residence. According to the person who called dispatchers, they saw two people run away from the vehicle. One person inside the car was pronounced dead at the scene. Additional information was not available. Anyone with information regarding the case is encouraged to call Tyler police, 903-531-1000 or Tyler-Smith County Crime Stoppers at 903-597-2833.

Capitol rioter who allegedly tweeted he wanted to ‘assassinate’ Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez faces 5 charges

Jon Cherry/Getty ImagesBy MEREDITH DELISO, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- A man who allegedly made an online threat to "assassinate" Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., faces five charges in connection with the U.S. Capitol insurrection, authorities said.

Garret Miller was arrested Wednesday in Texas. His charges include threats and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. A detention hearing is scheduled for Jan. 25.

Newly released court documents chronicle a series of social media posts Miller allegedly made on Jan. 6 and in the days following the riot, including threats to the Democratic lawmaker, a regular target of conservatives, and a U.S. Capitol Police officer.

"Assassinate AOC," Miller tweeted on Jan. 6 in response to a call by Ocasio-Cortez to impeach former President Donald Trump, according to the criminal complaint.

In a Facebook discussion on Jan. 10 about the Capitol Police officer who fatally shot a rioter, Miller allegedly said, "We going to get a hold of [the USCP officer] and hug his neck with a nice rope[.]"

On Jan. 11, Miller allegedly posted to Facebook a selfie of himself inside the Capitol Rotunda. When someone commented on the post, "bro you got in?! Nice!," Miller replied, "just wanted to incriminate myself a little lol," according to the affidavit.

A few days after the siege on the Capitol, Miller "admitted on Instagram that he 'had a rope in [his] bag on that day,'" according to the affidavit.

Miller's Twitter account has been suspended and his Facebook page has been deleted. The FBI affidavit included screengrabs of social media posts they attributed to Miller and stills of surveillance footage that allegedly placed him in the Capitol building on Jan. 6.

In a statement to ABC News, Miller's attorney said that his client "regrets the acts he took in a misguided effort to show his support for former President Trump."

"His social media comments reflect very ill-considered political hyperbole in very divided times and will certainly not be repeated in the future," attorney Clint Broden said in the statement. "He accepts responsibility for his actions."


In response to news of Miller's arrest, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, "On one hand you have to laugh, and on the other know that the reason they were this brazen is because they thought they were going to succeed."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

FBI: Texan charged in Capitol riot tweeted ‘Assassinate AOC’

DALLAS (AP) — A 34-year-old Texas man has been arrested for allegedly taking part in the storming of the U.S. Capitol this month and posting violent threats, including a call to assassinate Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. Garret Miller, of the Dallas suburb of Richardson, was arrested Friday after being named in a five-count federal complaint. Authorities say Miller posted photos and videos on his social media accounts that show him inside the Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot. They say he also posted violent threats, including a tweet that read “Assassinate AOC,” a reference to the liberal Ocasio-Cortez. Miller’s attorney says Miller regrets the actions he took “in a misguided effort to show his support for former President Trump.”


Families say more should have been done after 3 murders at New York City housing complex


(NEW YORK) -- Three families mourning the loss of their matriarchs are questioning why more wasn't done to protect the residents of their senior housing complex after a man was arrested for their murders this week.

Kevin Gavin, 66, was charged Friday with three counts of second-degree murder for the killings, which spanned from 2015 to last week and occurred in the victims' apartments, authorities said.

Gavin was identified as a suspect during the investigation of the second homicide, but it wasn't until the murder on Jan. 15 that investigators said they were able to connect him to all three, police said.

The suspect would run errands for some of the elderly tenants who lived in the building, run by New York City's public housing authority, NYCHA, police said.

"He had a relationship with our victims," NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison said during a media briefing Thursday.

Investigators believe the killings began as arguments about money. Gavin allegedly confessed to all three murders, prosecutors said in court Friday.

The first victim, Myrtle McKinney, 82, was found dead inside her apartment at the Woodson Houses on Nov. 9, 2015, by her home health aide. At first, it was thought she died of natural causes, but a medical examiner discovered a stab wound on her neck, authorities said. The homicide case remained open with few leads, Harrison said. In court documents, prosecutors said that Gavin told them he stabbed McKinney with a steak knife.

The second victim, Jacolia James, 83, was also found dead inside her apartment. Her grandson found her lying face down on April 30, 2019. She had suspicious injuries to her face and neck, and her official cause of death was strangulation. Gavin allegedly told prosecutors he choked her and "stomped on her neck three times."

Based on forensic evidence, Gavin became a suspect in James' murder and, by connection, McKinney's, but there wasn't enough evidence to arrest him at the time, police said. Last year, Gavin moved into his late brother's apartment in the building after he died.

The most recent homicide victim was killed nine months later. On Jan. 15, Juanita Caballero, 78, was found dead on the floor of her apartment with a telephone cord wrapped around her neck, authorities said. Her cause of death was strangulation.

Detectives were able to connect Gavin to all three murders based on evidence from the most recent homicide, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said during the briefing Thursday.

"Prior to that, the pattern of deaths in those houses could not be clearly linked to an individual," Gonzalez said. "After this unfortunate last killing, we were able to make a pretty definitive link to [Gavin]."

Gonzalez said that the arrest "will have a profound impact on public safety in Brooklyn." Though local leaders and the victims' family members are charging that more should have been done to protect residents of the complex following McKinney's murder in 2015.

"We're calling on the city, state and national resources to look into all of these murders, homicides, that were here," Councilwoman Inez Barron said Thursday during a press briefing with the victims' family members. "This has been a string of deaths that have occurred in a senior development, and we're saying the NYPD has been negligent ... and not put resources into solving these crimes in a timely manner."

Juanita Caballero's son, Steven Caballero, who discovered her body, said he is "heartbroken" over her murder and claimed that her building lacked significant security measures, such as cameras.

"NYCHA failed our families. They failed the McKinney family. They failed the James family. They failed my mother," said Steven Caballero. "They had time to do something, they just won't do nothing. I don't know what it's going to take for them to just put these cameras in the building."

His family plans to sue NYCHA over the security measures, the New York Daily News reported. The daughter of Jacolia James also filed suit against NYCHA last year, according to the paper.

"This building has no cameras. We need cameras. We need 'em now," Lamarr Crafton, the grandson of Jacolia James, said Thursday.

ABC News has reached out to NYCHA for comment on the cases and why Gavin was able to move into the building. The housing authority told New York ABC station WABC that the building currently has a security camera in the lobby, security doors and locks, and a security guard.

Harrison said police are now investigating other deaths in the building.

Gavin is being held without bail. His case was adjourned to Jan. 27. ABC News left a message with his attorney.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Larry King remembered by celebrities, politicians: ‘A newsman who interviewed the newsmakers’

Rodin Eckeroth/Getty ImagesBy EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Tributes are pouring in for iconic TV host Larry King, who died Saturday morning at age 87.

Former President Bill Clinton tweeted, "I enjoyed my 20+ interviews with Larry King over the years. He had a great sense of humor and a genuine interest in people. He gave a direct line to the American people and worked hard to get the truth for them, with questions that were direct but fair. Farewell, my friend."



Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, tweeted, "I mourn the passing of Larry King whom I have known for nearly 40 years. He was a great interviewer - sensitivity, humorous and witty. And he actually let you talk! An all around mensch. Millions around the world shall miss him, including myself."

CNN founder Ted Turner said in a statement, "Larry was one of my closest and dearest friends and, in my opinion, the world’s greatest broadcast journalist of all time. If anyone asked me what are my greatest career achievements in life; one is the creation of CNN, and the other is hiring Larry King. Like so many who worked with and knew Larry, he was a consummate professional, an amazing mentor to many and a good friend to all. The world has lost a true legend."

CNN President Jeff Zucker said in a statement, "We mourn the passing of our colleague Larry King. The scrappy young man from Brooklyn had a history-making career spanning radio and television. His curiosity about the world propelled his award-winning career in broadcasting, but it was his generosity of spirit that drew the world to him."

"We are so proud of the 25 years he spent with CNN, where his newsmaker interviews truly put the network on the international stage," Zucker said. "From our CNN family to Larry’s, we send our thoughts and prayers, and a promise to carry on his curiosity for the world in our work."

Here are more tributes to King:



























Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Tyler police investigate early morning shooting

Tyler police investigate early morning shootingTYLER–Tyler police officers were called to 50 Grand Club on North Grand following a report of multiple shots fired. Witnesses reportedly said one person was shot in the leg and was taken to the hospital by private vehicle. Officers located the vehicle and continued on to the hospital where the victim was treated for non-life threatening injuries. The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact the police department at 903-531-1000 or Tyler-Smith County Crime Stoppers at 903-597-2833.

Police, residents plead for ceasefire after South LA sees 59 shooting victims in 1st 2 weeks of 2021

kali9/iStockBy ROSA SANCHEZ, ABC News

(LOS ANGELES) -- Police officers and community members gathered at a press conference Friday to discuss the recent rise in gang violence in South LA.

The Los Angeles Police Department shared a report from the press conference, calling the uptick in criminal activity "disturbing," "unacceptable" and "horrific."

Authorities on Friday said there has been more gun violence in the area in the first weeks of 2021 than during the same time last year. In fact, newly released LAPD statistics show murders in the city have more than doubled.

"We are seeing military-style weaponry, with high-capacity ammo rounds," LAPD Deputy Chief Regina Scott said at the press conference, according to a video shared by KTLA. "At one homicide scene alone we collected almost 70 ammo rounds going over four different handguns -- at one scene. That is horrific, what we are seeing."

LAPD statistics show that more than two-thirds of the shootings this year happened in South LA.

The area saw 59 shooting victims in the first two weeks of 2021, compared to seven during the same time last year, Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore tweeted on Jan. 16. "Officers have made 105 arrests of individuals with firearms. 130 firearms taken from street. Gang intervention trying, but we need our community and elected officials," he wrote.

Some have said the COVID-19 pandemic -- which has taken lives, shut down businesses, brought on an economic depression and caused great pain to so many -- is partially to blame for the violence.

"The violence in Los Angeles is really out of control," said LAPD Detective Jamie McBride, speaking on behalf of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, KABC reported. "And to be quite honest right now, in Los Angeles we're fighting two pandemics. We're fighting COVID and gun violence."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Police, residents plead for ceasefire after South LA sees 59 shooting victims in 1st 2 weeks of 2021

kali9/iStockBy ROSA SANCHEZ, ABC News

(LOS ANGELES) -- Police officers and community members gathered at a press conference Friday to discuss the recent rise in gang violence in South LA.

The Los Angeles Police Department shared a report from the press conference, calling the uptick in criminal activity "disturbing," "unacceptable" and "horrific."

Authorities on Friday said there has been more gun violence in the area in the first weeks of 2021 than during the same time last year. In fact, newly released LAPD statistics show murders in the city have more than doubled.

"We are seeing military-style weaponry, with high-capacity ammo rounds," LAPD Deputy Chief Regina Scott said at the press conference, according to a video shared by KTLA. "At one homicide scene alone we collected almost 70 ammo rounds going over four different handguns -- at one scene. That is horrific, what we are seeing."

LAPD statistics show that more than two-thirds of the shootings this year happened in South LA.

The area saw 59 shooting victims in the first two weeks of 2021, compared to seven during the same time last year, Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore tweeted on Jan. 16. "Officers have made 105 arrests of individuals with firearms. 130 firearms taken from street. Gang intervention trying, but we need our community and elected officials," he wrote.

Some have said the COVID-19 pandemic -- which has taken lives, shut down businesses, brought on an economic depression and caused great pain to so many -- is partially to blame for the violence.

"The violence in Los Angeles is really out of control," said LAPD Detective Jamie McBride, speaking on behalf of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, KABC reported. "And to be quite honest right now, in Los Angeles we're fighting two pandemics. We're fighting COVID and gun violence."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Maine shifts some vaccine doses away from CVS and Walgreens

Oleksii Liskonih/iStockBy ERIN SCHUMAKER, ABC News

(AUGUSTA) -- As frustration mounts over slow COVID-19 vaccine rollouts at CVS and Walgreens around the country, Maine has been shifting supplies away from chain pharmacies to independent ones.

This week, the state transferred 975 doses from Walgreens to an independent pharmacy and next week it plans to transfer 500 doses away from CVS, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The decision was driven by the principles of velocity and equity, which are foundations of Maine's vaccination plan," Robert Long, a Maine CDC spokesperson, told ABC News in a statement. "The doses had not been committed to scheduled clinics, so the Maine Immunization Program redirected them to vaccination sites that had ready and immediate needs."

This week, Maine didn't send any of the doses it received from the federal government to CVS or Walgreens.

But according to Long, the decision to pause the retail pharmacy program isn't a policy shift. Instead, he said, it reflects the fact that CVS and Walgreens already had enough doses to fulfill their commitments for the week.

"This is not an issue of pace," a CVS spokesperson told ABC News. "The 500 doses noted are being moved because the operator of 14 long-term care facilities -- Shalom House in Portland -- wanted to move to Bedard Pharmacy, with whom they have an existing relationship."

"There are several factors that may leave us with more doses than initially planned," a Walgreens spokesperson told ABC News. "For example, the patient population at a long-term care facility has shifted, patients or staff elect not to get the vaccine, or a facility overestimated doses needed."

"We are not messing around with this," Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, said during a news conference last week. "We've got doses waiting to be administered and people waiting to receive them. If we see a mismatch there, we are going to continue moving things around in that fashion."

It remains to be seen if Maine will follow in the footsteps of West Virginia, which was lauded for a successful vaccine rollout that relied on partnering with independent pharmacies instead of chains.

As of Jan. 21, West Virginia had vaccinated 9,349 out of every 100,000 residents, among the best per capita rates in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By comparison, Maine's per capita vaccination rate was 5,989 vaccines administered for every 100,000 people.

And while the Maine CDC said that West Virginia's success with independent pharmacies had no influence on Maine's decision to reallocate doses, the two states do have some key similarities.

While slightly more than half of pharmacies in Maine are chains, compared to 41% of pharmacies in West Virginia, both states have a dearth of chains in rural neighborhoods, according to an ABC News analysis of SafeGraph data. In Maine, there are only six chain pharmacies per 100,000 people in rural areas. Rural neighborhoods in West Virginia have roughly eight chain pharmacies per 100,000 people.

John Beckner, senior director of strategic initiatives at the National Community Pharmacists Association, which represents independent pharmacies, said that independent pharmacies had wanted to be involved in the initial vaccine distribution effort.

"We had numerous meetings and calls with CDC and HHS. We lobbied," he said. "By and large, states have elected to use CVS and Walgreens. In some cases that worked OK. In other cases, there were a lot of bumps in the road."

And despite the perception that independent pharmacies aren't as well equipped as the big chains to handle vaccinations, Beckner, a pharmacist by training, stressed that independent pharmacists often have decades of experience immunizing patients. There's also the relationship factor: In addition to existing partnerships with nursing homes, in rural communities without a doctor, local pharmacist sometimes double as primary care.

While tricky requirements for storing the Pfizer vaccine make the Moderna a more realistic option for pharmacies "the main challenge for our members has been access to the vaccine," Beckner said.

More states are reaching out to independent pharmacies, according to Beckner, and with the prospect of additional vaccines like Johnson & Johnson's in the pipeline, Beckner is hopeful that independents will have a bigger role to play when vaccinations of the general public start.

"What we've seen in West Virginia is best practice, quite frankly," he said. "Other states have really taken notice."

ABC News' Mark Nichols contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Tens of thousands protest across Russia in support of poisoned Putin critic Navalny

macky_ch/iStockBy PATRICK REEVELL, ABC News

(MOSCOW) -- Tens of thousands of people have joined protests across dozens of cities in Russia, demanding the release of Alexey Navalny, the Kremlin critic who was jailed last week after he returned to the country for the first time since recovering from a poisoning with a nerve agent.

The protests were one of the largest displays of popular opposition to the rule of president Vladimir Putin in years, mushrooming in almost every large city across Russia and attracting unusually big crowds. Almost everywhere, the protesters were confronted by heavily armored riot police who moved to disperse them.

By early evening, police had detained over 1,600 people, according to OVD-Info, a group that monitors arrests, and that number seemed likely to grow.

In Moscow, Navalny's wife, Yulia Navalny, was detained at the protest, where lines of riot police later dispersed the crowd with batons.

Navalny had called for the nationwide protests on Saturday after authorities sent him to prison a week ago, setting up a test of the strength of Navalny's support in the country, following his poisoning and return to Russia.

Protests were held in almost every large city, beginning first in Russia's far east which is seven hours ahead of Moscow and then continuing throughout the day, spreading across Siberia until reaching cities on the border of Europe. Videos posted online showed crowds-- ranging from several hundred to a few thousand-- gathering in groups or marching in long processions, chanting slogans including, "Putin is a thief."

In Moscow, part of the city center was flooded with thousands of people. While there's no definitive reported number on the size of the crowd, Reuters estimated it at 40,000. Moscow's police, who commonly undercount crowd size, said it was just 4,000.

In the far eastern city of Vladivostok, a crowd of around 3,000 people gathered. Video posted on social media appear to show riot police officers charging at demonstrators with batons.

In many large eastern cities and in Siberia, other video posted online show long processions of people marching and chanting slogans such as "Putin is a thief."

The protests, although not huge outside of Moscow, were still remarkable for their size and geographic spread, stretching into regions normally indifferent to Navalny.

Navalny has traditionally had little pull beyond Moscow and St. Petersburg and his previous calls for nationwide protests have usually only seen small crowds of a few hundred in most regional cities.

Crowds, ranging from several hundred to a few thousand took to the streets in often biting cold. In the Siberian city Omsk, where an estimated thousand people marched the temperature was -20 degrees Fahrenheit. In Novosibirsk, videos filmed by local media showed riot police with steel shields chasing protesters onto a frozen lake.

In the far eastern city Vladivostok, an estimated crowd of 3,000 marched. Videos posted on social media showed police charging protesters with batons.

In many cities, demonstrators pelted helmeted riot police with snowballs and in some places tussled in knee-deep snow.

Navalny has traditionally had little pull in Russia's vast regions outside Moscow and previous calls for nationwide protests have previously seen only small crowds of a few hundred in most of the large regional cities. The marches on Saturday appeared larger than usual.

Ahead of the protests, authorities launched a wave of arrests, detaining activists at their homes, including several of Navalny's top lieutenants. The prosecutor general's office issued a warning that anyone attending the protests risked arrest, and opened a broad criminal case on charges relating to unauthorized public events.

Navalny's support is strong among students, so universities and schools warned against attending, threatening expulsion.

Navalny is Russia's best-known opposition leader and is viewed as president Vladimir Putin's most troublesome political opponent. He has built a grassroots movement, galvanized by his investigations into alleged acts of corruption among powerful officials and businessmen close to Putin.

This week, a day after Navalny was jailed, his team released a new film claiming to lift the lid of an extravagant secret palace built by Putin on the Black Sea coast close to the city of Sochi. The film, which Navalny said is based on leaked blueprints, describes the interior of the palace, alleging it contains a personal casino, amphitheater, vineyard and even an underground hockey rink for Putin.

Navalny is currently in a jail in Moscow. He was detained at the airport almost immediately upon his arrival in Moscow last Sunday from Germany, where he had been recovering from the nerve agent poisoning that nearly killed him. He was then ordered to stay behind bars for at least 30 days by a makeshift court set up inside a police station, and could be sentenced to years in prison at a parole hearing later this month, on Jan. 29.

Police detained Navalny for allegedly violating the terms of a suspended sentence from 2014, when he was found guilty of embezzlement in a trial that the European Court of Human Rights later ruled was unjust. Russia's prison service has requested that his three and a half-year sentence be converted into real prison time.

Though Navalny has been jailed before over his activism, he has never been imprisoned long, most observers believe because the Kremlin has never wanted to risk the political fallout.

But following Navalny's poisoning, some observers believe that calculus may well have changed.

The Kremlin has denied any involvement in Navalny's murder attempt, but an investigation by the independent group Bellingcat in December claimed it had found evidence identifying an alleged hit squad from Russia's domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Security Service or FSB, that trailed Navalny for years and was present in Siberia when he fell sick in August. Navalny himself has published audio from a phone call with one of the alleged team members, in which the agent appears to unwittingly acknowledge the plot.

Navalny on Friday released a statement from jail via his lawyers in which he said he was feeling well and if anything were to suddenly happen to him while in jail, it should be treated as foul play.

"Just in case, I declare: My plans don't include hanging myself on a prison's window bars, or open my veins or cut my throat with a sharpened spoon," Navalny said in the statement posted on Instagram. "I'm being very careful walking downstairs. My blood pressure is measured every day, and it's like a cosmonaut's, so a heart attack is excluded."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Texas deploys more help to hard-hit border as deaths mount

AUSTIN (AP) — The border city of Laredo has become one of the biggest coronavirus hotspots in the nation. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Friday that more medical personnel and equipment were on the way as roughly half of the area’s hospitals beds are now filled by COVID-19 patients. More than 8,900 new virus cases have been reported in Laredo and surrounding Webb County over the past two weeks, making it one of the highest per-capita outbreaks in the country. The spike comes as January is set to be the deadliest month of the pandemic in Texas. More than 400 new COVID-19 deaths were reported Friday.


Biden makes symbolic changes to Oval Office reflecting goals as president

Doug Mills/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesBy MICHELLE STODDART and ADIA ROBINSON, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- Not long after he was inaugurated, President Donald Trump had a portrait of the populist and controversial President Andrew Jackson placed prominently in the Oval Office, looking down as he held photo ops, signed sweeping executive orders and sparred with reporters.

But that painting of Jackson has been replaced.

Now, next to President Joe Biden as he sits at the Resolute desk is a portrait of one of America's founders, Benjamin Franklin.

Other symbolic changes Biden has made include adding busts of labor organizer and Latino civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt and former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, as well as portraits of former presidents Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson.

"It was important for President Biden to walk into an Oval that looked like America and started to show the landscape of who he is going to be as president," Ashley Williams, the deputy director of Oval Office operations, told the Washington Post.

The busts of King and Kennedy, who Biden on the campaign trail called his political heroes, are in his direct view on either side of the Oval Office fireplace.

The Chavez bust sits among photos of Biden’s family, including one of his beloved late son, Beau, on a table behind him.

Chavez’ son, Paul Chavez, told the Associated Press that when he agreed to lend the bust to the president, he didn't know where it would end up. Seeing it placed so noticeably behind Biden, Chavez said, "we’re still smiling cheek to cheek."

Franklin's portrait is said to be a nod to his respect for science.

A large portrait of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who also came into office during a time of economic hardship during the Great Depression, hangs right across the room as Biden sits at the Resolute desk.

Portraits of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington also look on from the Oval Office walls.

Biden paired the portraits of Jefferson and Hamilton, his office told the Washington Post as "hallmarks of how differences of opinion, expressed within the guardrails of the Republic, are essential to democracy."

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Democrats start reining in expectations for immigration bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — New President Joe Biden unveiled a bold immigration plan just days ago. And Democrats are already acknowledging that if anything emerges, it will likely be significantly more modest. Immigration is so politically flammable that it’s resisted major congressional action since the 1980s, and this time seems no different. Biden wants to make citizenship available for the estimated 11 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally and ease other restrictions. But even supporters like No. 2 Senate Democratic leader Dick Durbin of Illinois say the party may have to settle for less, such as helping young Dreamer immigrants become citizens.


Person in Michigan wins Mega Millions’ $1 billion jackpot, 2nd-largest total ever


(NEW YORK) -- One lucky person is taking home the Mega Millions jackpot cash.

At around 1 a.m. ET Saturday, the list of lottery winners was announced. A person in Michigan won the jackpot, estimated at $1 billion or $739.6 million as a lump-sum, before taxes.

The winning ticket was sold at a Kroger located in Novi, a northern suburb of Detroit -- about a 30-minute drive from the city -- the state lottery website confirmed. The winning numbers were 4-26-42-50-60 with a Mega Ball number of 24.

The winner's identity has not been revealed, but, per state lottery rules, they must come forward to claim their winnings.

The winner will have two options to collect the record prize, the lottery said in a statement: "The first is an escalating annuity that offers an initial payment, then annual payments for 29 years. The player also may select a one-time cash payment of about $739 million. If a player selects the cash option, they will receive about $530 million after tax withholdings."

The Mega Millions jackpot increased to $1 billion for Friday night's drawing.

It is the second-largest jackpot in Mega Millions history and the third-largest in U.S. lottery history, Mega Millions lottery officials said. The $1.537 billion won by a person in South Carolina on Oct. 23, 2018 is still the world's largest lotto prize ever awarded on a single ticket.

This is the 18th Mega Millions jackpot won in Michigan, according to a lottery press release. The last winner in the state shared the prize with a Rhode Island winner on Oct. 13, 2017. Until Friday night's win, the largest lottery prize ever won by a Michigan player was a $337 million Powerball jackpot. Donald Lawson, of Lapeer, won it on Aug. 15, 2012. On April 22, 2005, Port Huron couple Ralph and Mary Stebbins, won $208 million playing Mega Millions -- it was the largest Mega Millions prize ever won in the state.

Michigan is one of the original founding members of Mega Millions.

"About 97 cents of every dollar spent on Lottery tickets is returned to the state in the form of contributions to the state School Aid Fund, prizes to players and commissions to vendors and retailers," the state lottery said in a statement. "In the 2019 fiscal year, the Lottery provided more than $1 billion for Michigan's public schools, its fifth record contribution in a row. Since it began in 1972, the Lottery has contributed more than $23 billion to support public education in Michigan."

The Match 5 winners were two people in Florida, one in Maryland, one in Missouri, one in New Jersey, one in New York and two in Pennsylvania. Each will take home $1 million. Also, two people -- one in North Carolina and one in Virginia -- won the Match 5 + Megaplier. Each will take home $2 million.

On Wednesday, a winning Powerball ticket worth $731.1 million was sold in Allegany County, Maryland. The ticket was the fourth-largest in Powerball history and the sixth-largest in U.S. lottery history. Lottery winners in Maryland have the right to remain anonymous.

The previous jackpot, which was worth $120 million, was won by a person in Wisconsin on Sept. 15, 2020.

Powerball's jackpot is resetting to $20 million for Saturday's drawing. The next drawing is on Tuesday, Jan. 26.

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Legendary talk show host Larry King dies at age 87

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(LOS ANGELES) -- Legendary talk show host Larry King, whose career took him from local to syndicated radio to global TV stardom, has died at age 87.

A statement from King's production company, Ora Media, posted on King's official Twitter announced his death "with profound sadness," saying King "passed away this morning at age 87 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles."  A spokesperson for King's family also confirmed his death to ABC News.

On January 2, King was hospitalized for COVID-19 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, a source close to the King family told ABC News then.

King overcame several health challenges over the years, including a heart attack that led to bypass surgery and ultimately encouraged King to quit smoking. King also survived lung cancer and underwent surgery at Cedars-Sinai in 2017, and was treated for prostate cancer in 1999.

In 2019, King suffered a stroke that left him unable to walk on his left foot, and he was sometimes seen using a wheelchair afterward." I never thought I'd be 86," King told Page Six at the time. “My father died when he was 43, 44. I thought I would die too.”  "I have no complaints. Everything that’s happened to me, I’m grateful for," he added. "Maybe that sounds cliché, but I'm really, really grateful."

The award-winning newsman, whose lengthy career earned him the nickname "The Iron Horse of Broadcasting," was known for his gravelly baritone, signature suspenders and straightforward questions, a style honed over the course of tens of thousands of interviews on the radio and television.

Born Lawrence Harvey Zeiger, the Brooklyn native wanted to be on the radio from a young age. After graduating high school, he got his first radio job in Florida in the 1950s. He got his first break on-air in Miami, where he became known by the moniker Larry King, which he ultimately made his legal name.

In 1978, King began hosting the nationally-syndicated The Larry King Show on the Mutual Broadcasting System, which he hosted for 16 years before stepping down in 1994.  During that time, he also made the move to TV, and hosted the CNN program Larry King Live from 1985 to 2010. Oprah Winfrey notably endorsed Barack Obama on the show during the 2008 presidential campaign.

In recent years, King hosted Larry King Now on Hulu, RT American and Ora TV, the latter a production company King co-founded with Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim in 2012. King was also hosting the show Politicking with Larry King on the channels until his death.

King didn't escape controversy over his decades-long career. Most recently, in 2019, he unknowingly filmed a Chinese propaganda infomercial in a fake interview with a Russian journalist, as reported by ProPublica. "I never should have done it, obviously," King told the publication then.

King was recognized with two Peabody Awards and one Emmy Award, among other honors. He was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 1992.

King has also authored several books, did voice work in TV shows and movies, including Shrek 2 and Bee Movie, and made cameos in TV shows and films, including Ghostbusters.

In 1988, a year after he survived a heart attack, the newsman founded the Larry King Cardiac Foundation to help those with heart disease pay for their medical treatment. 

A lifelong Dodgers fan, from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, King was often seen behind home plate at Dodgers Stadium.

King was married eight times to seven women and had five children. In August, 2020, he revealed that two of his children had died within weeks of each other. Andy, 65, died of a heart attack on July 28, 2020, and Chaia, 51, passed away on August 20 shortly after a lung cancer diagnosis.

King is survived by his sons, Larry, Chance and Cannon, as well as nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

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