News Headlines 02/03/21

ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES VACCINE EXPANSION: The Biden administration said yesterday (February 2nd) that it’s moving to expand access to coronavirus vaccines, make more doses available for states, and starting to send them to retail pharmacies. Coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients said that one million vaccine doses will be distributed to some 6,500 pharmacies across the country next week, providing more locations for people to get vaccinated. Additionally, the weekly allocation of vaccines sent directly to states is being increased by 500,000 doses for the coming weeks, up to 10.5 million. The number of participating pharmacies and the allocation of vaccines will grow as drugmakers increase production, with the White House saying the goal is to ultimately have more than 40,000 pharmacies involved. Major chains including CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid are participating, as are large store chains like Walmart and Costco, and supermarket pharmacies.

BIDEN SIGNS IMMIGRATION EXECUTIVE ORDERS, INCLUDING ON TASK FORCE TO REUNITE SEPARATED FAMILIES: President Biden signed new executive orders related to immigration yesterday (February 2nd), including one to create a task force to reunite families that were separated at the border during the Trump administration. It’s estimated that the parents of more than 600 children still have not been located of the 5,500 families that were separated. A second order begins a review of another program from the previous administration that has left tens of thousands of people waiting in Mexico while their requests for asylum in the U.S. are processed. A third orders a review of Trump-era policies that have made it harder for legal immigrants to get green cards or to become naturalized U.S. citizens.

RUSSIAN COURT ORDERS NAVALNY JAILED FOR MORE THAN TWO-AND-A-HALF YEARS: A Russian court ordered opposition leader Alexei Navalny to be jailed for more than two-and-a-half years yesterday (February 2nd), ruling that he’d violated the terms of his probation while recovering in Germany from nerve-agent poisoning that he’s blamed on the Kremlin. The probation violation charge related to a 2014 embezzlement conviction that Navalny charges was fabricated and politically motivated. Earlier in the court proceeding, Navalny had charged that he was arrested because of President Vladimir Putin‘s “fear and hatred,” stating, “The aim of this hearing is to scare a great number of people. You can’t jail the entire country.” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the sentence, saying, “We reiterate our call for the Russian government to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Navalny . . . ”

TWO FBI AGENTS KILLED IN SEARCH ATTEMPT RELATED TO CHILD PORN CASE: Two FBI agents were killed and three wounded, none of them critically, in Sunrise, Florida, yesterday morning (February 2nd) when a suspect opened fire as they arrived with a warrant to search an apartment in a child pornography and violence against children case. The suspect also died and is believed to have killed himself. The two agents killed were identified as 36-year-old Daniel Alfin and 43-year-old Laura Schwartzenberger. The suspect wasn’t named, with the FBI saying his family had to be notified first. President Biden offered his condolences from the White House, saying, “They put their lives on the line and that’s a hell of a price to pay. My heart aches for the families.”

CAPITOL POLICE OFFICER KILLED IN JAN. 6 ATTACK LIES IN HONOR AT CAPITOL: Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who was killed in the January 6th attack on the Capitol as he tried to hold off the mob, lay in honor last night (February 2nd) at the same building in the Capitol Rotunda. Capitol Police have said the 42-year-old Sicknick was hurt, quote, “while physically engaging with protesters.” There have been media reports that he was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher and collapsed. President Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, paid their respects at the Capitol during the ceremony last night, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and a few other congressional leaders also paid their respects. A viewing period was held overnight for Capitol Police members, and lawmakers will pay tribute during a ceremony this morning. Sicknick’s cremated remains will leave later in the day for Arlington National Cemetery.