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Agriculture
AP
Trump impeached after Capitol riot in historic second charge
President Donald Trump has been impeached by the U.S. House over the violent siege of the Capitol
  • Updated

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump was impeached by the U.S. House for a historic second time Wednesday, charged with “incitement of insurrection” over the deadly mob siege of the Capitol in a swift and stunning collapse of his final days in office.

With the Capitol secured by armed National Guard troops inside and out, the House voted 232-197 to impeach Trump. The proceedings moved at lightning speed, with lawmakers voting just one week after violent pro-Trump loyalists stormed the U.S. Capitol, egged on by the president’s calls for them to “fight like hell” against the election results.

Ten Republicans fled Trump, joining Democrats who said he needed to be held accountable and warned ominously of a “clear and present danger” if Congress should leave him unchecked before Democrat Joe Biden’s inauguration Jan. 20.

Trump is the only U.S. president to be twice impeached. It was the most bipartisan presidential impeachment in modern times, more so than against Bill Clinton in 1998.

The Capitol insurrection stunned and angered lawmakers, who were sent scrambling for safety as the mob descended, and it revealed the fragility of the nation’s history of peaceful transfers of power. The riot also forced a reckoning among some Republicans, who have stood by Trump throughout his presidency and largely allowed him to spread false attacks against the integrity of the 2020 election.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi invoked Abraham Lincoln and the Bible, imploring lawmakers to uphold their oath to defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign “and domestic.”

She said of Trump: “He must go, he is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love.”

Holed up at the White House, watching the proceedings on TV, Trump later released a video statement in which he made no mention at all of the impeachment but appealed to his supporters to refrain from any further violence or disruption of Biden’s inauguration.

“Like all of you, I was shocked and deeply saddened by the calamity at the Capitol last week,” he said, his first condemnation of the attack. He appealed for unity “to move forward” and said, “Mob violence goes against everything I believe in and everything our movement stands for. ... No true supporter of mine could ever disrespect law enforcement.”

Trump was first impeached by the House in 2019 over his dealings with Ukraine, but the Senate voted in 2020 acquit. He is the first president to be impeached twice. None has been convicted by the Senate, but Republicans said Wednesday that could change in the rapidly shifting political environment as officeholders, donors, big business and others peel away from the defeated president.

Biden said in a statement after the vote that it was his hope the Senate leadership “will find a way to deal with their Constitutional responsibilities on impeachment while also working on the other urgent business of this nation.”

The soonest Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell would start an impeachment trial is next Tuesday, the day before Trump is already set to leave the White House, McConnell’s office said. The legislation is also intended to prevent Trump from ever running again.

McConnell believes Trump committed impeachable offenses and considers the Democrats’ impeachment drive an opportunity to reduce the divisive, chaotic president’s hold on the GOP, a Republican strategist told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

McConnell told major donors over the weekend that he was through with Trump, said the strategist, who demanded anonymity to describe McConnell’s conversations.

In a note to colleagues Wednesday, McConnell said he had “not made a final decision on how I will vote.”

Unlike his first time, Trump faces this impeachment as a weakened leader, having lost his own reelection as well as the Senate Republican majority.

Even Trump ally Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, shifted his position and said Wednesday the president bears responsibility for the horrifying day at the Capitol.

In making a case for the “high crimes and misdemeanors” demanded in the Constitution, the four-page impeachment resolution approved Wednesday relies on Trump’s own incendiary rhetoric and the falsehoods he spread about Biden’s election victory, including at a rally near the White House on the day of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

A Capitol Police officer died from injuries suffered in the riot, and police shot and killed a woman during the siege. Three other people died in what authorities said were medical emergencies. The riot delayed the tally of Electoral College votes that was the last step in finalizing Biden’s victory.

Ten Republican lawmakers, including third-ranking House GOP leader Liz Cheney of Wyoming, voted to impeach Trump, cleaving the Republican leadership, and the party itself.

Cheney, whose father is the former Republican vice president, said of Trump’s actions summoning the mob that “there has never been a greater betrayal by a President” of his office.

Trump was said to be livid with perceived disloyalty from McConnell and Cheney.

With the team around Trump hollowed out and his Twitter account silenced by the social media company, the president was deeply frustrated that he could not hit back, according to White House officials and Republicans close to the West Wing who weren’t authorized to speak publicly about private conversations.

From the White House, Trump leaned on Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina to push Republican senators to resist, while chief of staff Mark Meadows called some of his former colleagues on Capitol Hill.

The president’s sturdy popularity with the GOP lawmakers’ constituents still had some sway, and most House Republicans voted not to impeach.

Security was exceptionally tight at the Capitol, with tall fences around the complex. Metal-detector screenings were required for lawmakers entering the House chamber, where a week earlier lawmakers huddled inside as police, guns drawn, barricaded the door from rioters.

“We are debating this historic measure at a crime scene,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass.

During the debate, some Republicans repeated the falsehoods spread by Trump about the election and argued that the president has been treated unfairly by Democrats from the day he took office.

Other Republicans argued the impeachment was a rushed sham and complained about a double standard applied to his supporters but not to the liberal left. Some simply appealed for the nation to move on.

Rep. Tom McClintock of California said, “Every movement has a lunatic fringe.”

Yet Democratic Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo. and others recounted the harrowing day as rioters pounded on the chamber door trying to break in. Some called it a “coup” attempt.

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., contended that Trump was “capable of starting a civil war.”

Conviction and removal of Trump would require a two-thirds vote in the Senate, which will be evenly divided. Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania joined Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska over the weekend in calling for Trump to “go away as soon as possible.”

Fending off concerns that an impeachment trial would bog down his first days in office, Biden is encouraging senators to divide their time between taking taking up his priorities of confirming his nominees and approving COVID-19 relief while also conducting the trial.

The impeachment bill draws from Trump’s own false statements about his election defeat to Biden. Judges across the country, including some nominated by Trump, have repeatedly dismissed cases challenging the election results, and former Attorney General William Barr, a Trump ally, has said there was no sign of widespread fraud.

The House had first tried to persuade Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to invoke their authority under the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. Pence declined to do so, but the House passed the resolution anyway.

The impeachment bill also details Trump’s pressure on state officials in Georgia to “find” him more votes.

While some have questioned impeaching the president so close to the end of his term, there is precedent. In 1876, during the Ulysses Grant administration, War Secretary William Belknap was impeached by the House the day he resigned, and the Senate convened a trial months later. He was acquitted.


News
Demo work begins on former prison
  • Updated

Demolition has started for a building on the Hastings Regional Center grounds that was constructed to provide geriatric housing and eventually was transformed into a minimum-security prison before it ultimately was abandoned more than 15 years ago.

According to previous Tribune articles, Hastings State Hospital first opened the building on the south end of the campus in 1949 as a geriatrics facility to house 250 patients as a solution to old-age care.

In July 1963, the Hastings State Hospital was reorganized into two Unit Hospitals, psychiatric and alcoholic. The campus has been home to a state facility for mental health patients since it opened in 1889.

In 1964, the geriatrics building became the “Day Care Center,” and it was being used for that purpose in the early 1970s. The building also housed the chronic alcoholic rehabilitation ward at that time.

Hastings State Hospital was renamed the Hastings Regional Center in 1971.

At some point, the building was vacated and stood empty for years before it was converted into a minimum-security prison in 1987.

The first inmates were admitted in June 1987, starting with 11 inmates from the Lincoln Community Corrections Center who worked as construction crew for the interior renovations.

Fencing and razor wire was added to transform the building for use as the Hastings Correctional Center.

After renovations were complete, the prison had a capacity of 160 inmates, but was often below capacity.

A 17-foot-high tower was added to the prison in 1988 to provide added security after several prisoners escaped in the facility’s early days.

A 1993 state-funded study recommended that HCC be closed as part of a statewide plan to reduce prison overcrowding by 1995. The study advocated developing new ways to rehabilitate nonviolent inmates in order to control the state prison system’s growing problem of overcrowding, but indicated that another potential solution was to build more prisons to handle overcrowding.

The prison was slated to close in 2002 due to budget cuts proposed by then-Gov. Mike Johanns. In that same time frame, the state ended key programming at the Hastings Regional Center as it revamped the mental health system to emphasize more community-based services.

The federal government took over the former Hastings Correctional Center facility in 2002 for use as a detention center by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, but it wasn’t used enough to justify its continued use, and the building was closed for good in 2005.

The structure, known as Building 25 on the HRC map, is one of several that have been demolished recently or are slated for demolition on the mostly idle campus. A new Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center for females is planned to open on the campus this year.


Agriculture
AP
Study: In pandemic era, older adults isolated but resilient
An ongoing study suggests that older American adults are showing resilience and perseverance despite struggles with loneliness and isolation during the pandemic
  • Updated

Since the pandemic’s descent, they have generally been viewed as among those at higher risk — older Americans, some of them medically vulnerable, figuring out how to navigate life in a COVID-saturated, increasingly isolated world.

That’s one type of health — physical. When it comes to mental and emotional health, older adults in the United States are showing resilience and persevering despite struggles with loneliness and isolation, the latest self-reported results in an ongoing study suggest.

The latest data from the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project, conducted by the social research organization NORC at the University of Chicago, is part of a longer-term study designed to track the physical and emotional well-being of older Americans over time.

Only 9% of older adults reported having “fair or poor overall mental health” during the pandemic, similar to their previous answers and an indication of what the study calls “some signs of resilience.” Nevertheless, the study found that general happiness has declined. About half as many older adults now report they are very happy or extremely happy, and an increasing number report occasional feelings of depression or isolation.

“It should sensitize everyone to the reality of isolation’s impact but also the reality that people are resilient — and maybe even more so older adults than younger adults,” said Louise Hawkley, principal research scientist at NORC and the lead researcher on the study.

“This isn’t their first show. They’ve been through things already. They know how to handle stress,” Hawkley said. “This is something we can learn from them — that there is survival.”

The information comes from 1,284 respondents between the ages of 55 and 99, interviewed in September and October — all of them participants in a longer-term study that also collected data in person in 2015-2016. The survey's margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Other interesting findings from the responses:

—About one-fifth of older adults in the study said they’d had no in-person contact with family and friends outside their own households during the pandemic.

—At the same time, at least half of older adults “have not reduced their frequency of in-person contact with friends and family not living with them" since the pandemic began.

—Where in-person interaction faded, the study showed that electronic communication stepped in — but, perhaps unexpectedly in this demographic, the use of phone conversations (32%) lagged behind messaging (37%) and video calls (42%).

Taken together, the responses form what Hawkley calls a portrait of a demographic that crosses generations, is persevering under challenging circumstances and — pivotally — whose members need more engagement about isolation and emotional health even after the pandemic wanes.

“There’s a lot we don’t appreciate about how well people do cope with age,” said Hawkley, who specializes in researching loneliness and social isolation in older adults. She said arrangements are being made to obtain physical data from the participants as soon as the pandemic ebbs.

“We’re learning painfully how real a risk social isolation is to our mental health,” she said. “And I think we need to learn how it affects physical health.”


A version of this story originally published Jan. 13, 2021, reported that no margin of error was provided. A margin of error was later provided by NORC at the University of Chicago. It is plus or minus 4 percentage points.


Covid-19
South Heartland COVID-19 case tally surpasses 4,000 mark

More than 4,000 residents of the South Heartland Health District have tested positive for infection with the novel coronavirus disease to date.

The district health department reported the districtwide case count stood at 4,024 as of Wednesday evening.

The health district encompasses Adams, Webster, Clay and Nuckolls counties. The first positive case in a district resident was reported on March 18, 2020.

Michele Bever, health department executive director, also reported in a news release Wednesday evening that the district’s risk dial reading for this week remains at 2.4 for the second consecutive week.

That reading is near the middle of the orange, or “elevated,” zone on the risk dial, which assesses the danger associated with continuing local community spread of the virus based on various metrics.

The risk dial has four zones: green (zero to 1), signifying low risk; yellow (1-2), moderate; orange (2-3), elevated; and red (3-4), severe. The reading, which is updated for the week each Wednesday, takes into account various factors related to spread of the virus and capacities for testing, tracing and treatment.

One key metric is the test positivity rate, which dropped to 14% for the week of Jan. 3-9 — down from 15% for the prior week. The test positivity rate is the percentage of COVID-19 tests administered in a given week that come back from the laboratory with a positive result.

The tally of new cases also is a key factor. Bever reported Wednesday that the 14-day rolling average of new daily cases had edged up to 50 per 100,000 population (an extrapolated number) from the low 40s per 100,000 in previous weeks.

Hospital capacity indicators also have worsened slightly, Bever said, with fewer intensive care beds available in the district for new patients (36%, compared to 73% the previous week) and an increased census of in-patients who are positive for COVID-19 (11 on Wednesday, compared to three on Jan. 3).

Meanwhile, however, vaccination efforts continue in the district, just less than a month since the first doses were received on Dec. 15, 2020.

“Vaccine availability, while still limited in amount, continues to be an important positive factor,” Bever said. “SHDHD and partners in the health district have administered 1,831 doses of COVID-19 vaccine since the first doses arrived here in mid-December, including 243 second doses.”

Bever said South Heartland is wrapping up the first priority group (1A) this week and next, and officials are hoping to move into Phase 1B in the next week or two.

“Next week, the majority of vaccine being allotted to us is coming as ‘second doses’ and must be used as such,” Bever said.

Phase 1A includes frontline health care workers as well as long-term care center residents and employees. Phase 1B begins with senior citizens in the general population and then continues with various categories of workers in critical industries who are unable to work remotely.

Bever said South Heartland and local health care providers have been experiencing “huge” call volumes from people wanting to know when they can get vaccinated. She asked residents to watch the local news media, health department website and South Heartland Facebook page for updated information about the status and timeline of the vaccine distribution process.

“We are putting out notifications to let people know whose turn it is and how to schedule your vaccine,” she said. “We encourage patience for those anxious to get the vaccine. Everyone in each phase can be vaccinated as soon as there are enough vaccines available.”

The neighboring Two Rivers Public Health Department, Public Health Solutions District Health Department and Central District Health Department also are inviting senior citizens to register their names and contact information on their department websites so they can be contacted when vaccine is available for them.

The South Heartland website is www.southheartlandhealth.org. The Two Rivers site is www.trphd.org. The Public Health Solutions site is www.phsneb.org.

The Central health department, which serves Hall, Hamilton and Merrick counties, announced its procedures to prepare for Phase 1B on Wednesday.

“We will begin vaccinating those in Phase 1B as soon as we have vaccine available,” CHD said on its website. “If you live in Hamilton, Hall or Merrick County you may register on our website, cdhd.ne.gov, or call us at 308-385-5175 and leave your name, birthdate and phone number.

“Because of limited vaccine, we plan to start with those age 90 and over, and then gradually expand to others age groups as vaccine becomes available. We will contact you by phone when we have vaccine for you. Please be patient as this will take time.”

In a weekly COVID-19 news update on Wednesday, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services announced that, in accordance with revised recommendations from the federal government, senior citizens prioritized for vaccination in Phase 1B now will include those age 65 and older, as opposed to 75 and older as had been announced earlier.

Individuals who are at high risk for serious illness with COVID-19 also will be prioritized in Phase 1B. The high-risk group will include people with certain medical conditions identified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


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