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YouTube removes video from the Ohio commission, alleging misinformation

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YouTube removes video from the Ohio commission, alleging misinformation

 

Legislative testimony given Wednesday in favour of a GOP-backed attempt to restrict public health orders issued by the governor of Ohio was deleted from YouTube after the service considered that it included misinformation regarding COVID-19.

The website owned by Google said it disabled material that was posted to The Ohio Advocates for Medical Freedom channel this week for breaching the terms of service of the company.

During a House committee hearing on a bill that would allow lawmakers to vote down public health orders during the pandemic, the video showed Thomas Renz, an attorney for Ohio Stands Up, a citizens group, making the opening testimony.

Renz made a variety of debunked or baseless statements in the more than 30-minute testimony, including that no Ohioans under the age of 19 died from COVID-19, a claim that has been debunked by state evidence.

Ivy Choi, a Google spokesperson, told The Associated Press, “We have clear Community Guidelines governing what videos may remain on YouTube, which we consistently enforce, regardless of speaker.” “In accordance with our COVID-19 misinformation policy, which prohibits content that claims a certain age group is unable to transmit the virus, we removed this video.”

Renz told AP in an email response, “We stand strongly behind our claims and are considering our options,” and asserted that scientific evidence supports the group’s results.

The elimination, first mentioned by the Ohio Capital Newspaper, comes days after the Senate’s Republican legislators approved a bill that would set up “checks and balances” on the ability of fellow GOP Gov. Mike DeWine to issue and retain executive action during the coronavirus pandemic.

House and Senate supporters of the bills believe that during the last 11 months of the pandemic, DeWine and the state health department released directives that have stayed enforced for longer than required and, as a result, have unduly harmed small businesses and the economy of the state.

Opponents called it unconstitutional and warned that, during an emergency, it would decentralise the response of the state and cost lives in the process.

“It’s incredibly dangerous this bill. We are in a 100-year pandemic,’ said Wednesday Democratic Sen. Cecil Thomas. “As a result of this particular pandemic, people are still dying. This is not just a state of emergency or whatever the case might be with our storm or a flood. This is a state of emergency, since Ohioans are being killed by the virus.

Renz was among many Ohioans who filed a lawsuit in September to revoke emergency health orders given in response to the coronavirus pandemic by DeWine and the state health department.

In support of and against a variety of COVID-19 related bills, including one accusing the State Department of health of “whitewashing” virus results, Ohio Advocates for Medical Freedom representatives have been frequent guests at the Ohio Statehouse.

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Women’s basketball: Iowa hands Minnesota worst loss of the program’s NCAA era

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NCAA volleyball: Badgers sweep Gophers in regional final

Minnesota had a plan to stop No. 25 Iowa on Thursday. Talked about it, worked on it in practice. It wasn’t as if the plan didn’t work — it just plain didn’t happen.

Caitlin Clark had 35 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, and Watertown’s Monika Czinano added 23 and six rebounds as Iowa handed Minnesota its worst loss of the program’s NCAA era, 105-49, at Williams Arena.

“Sometimes you just have those special nights, and tonight was one of them,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said.

Not for the Gophers, who didn’t do anything well. Sara Scalia scored a team-high 15 points, but Minnesota’s leading rebounder was Rose Micheaux with four, and Gadiva Hubbard had a team-high three assists.

“Clearly not a good night for us,” Gophers coach Lindsay Whalen said.

Minnesota wanted to keep a body on Clark, harass Czinano in the block and get back in transition. “Obviously things that we talked about for a few days, talked about for a few days, and we weren’t able to get it done,” Whalen said.

Clark finished with her fifth triple-double, and while the Gophers kept Czinano in check early, she made five of her last six shots and 9 of 10 free throws. As for getting back on defense, well, Iowa scored 23 fastbreak points and 14 points off 11 Minnesota turnovers.

“They’re a really good transition team. That’s what they do,” Whalen said.

It didn’t help that Iowa rarely had to take the ball out of the basket to get going; Minnesota shot 33.3 percent from the field (21 for 63). The Hawkeyes shot 59 percent (40 for 68).

The Gophers fell to 9-10 overall and 2-5 in the Big Ten.

Their worst Big Ten loss remains a 93-37 setback to Indiana in 1974-75, before the NCAA began sponsoring women’s basketball, and their worst loss overall was 114-53 at Texas on Dec. 4, 1978. But in the NCAA era, Thursday’s loss margin surpassed the previous program record of 55 set Nov. 29, 1986, in a 101-46 loss to fourth-ranked Auburn, then matched in a 99-44 loss to No. 7 Maryland on March 1, 2020.

It was Iowa’s largest margin of victory in a Big Ten game in program history and third largest overall. The Hawkeyes (11-4, 5-1) have won four straight.

“I’m still trying to take it in,” Bluder said. “I really didn’t find anything that was poor out there.”

Clark, a sophomore guard who was a second-team All-American as a freshman, registered her fifth career double-double and surpassed her scoring average of 25.7 points a game, which leads the nation. She was 14 of 21 from the floor and 4 for 6 from 3-point range but finished well shy of her career-high of 44 points set Jan. 2 against Evansville.

Her 13 rebounds were a game-high.

“When I get the rebound and push in transition, that’s when we’re at our best,” Clark said. “Because it’s hard to pick me up, and it’s really hard to find my other teammates on the floor — and that’s really when we’re at our best.”

Gabbie Marshall’s layup off a steal by teammate Kylie Feuerbach gave the Hawkeyes a 97-48 lead with 7 minutes, 4 seconds left in the game, and it only got worse from there. Minnesota was 1 for 15 from the field in the fourth quarter.

Asked if she thought her team gave up, Whalen said, “I’m not going to say that. Obviously, the fourth was tough. I thought we had guys trying to make some plays, and it just didn’t go our way. … Guys were still trying to do the right thing.”

Starting point guard Jasmine Powell was scoreless for the first time in her college career.

Asked how the Gophers can regroup in time for Sunday’s 1 p.m. tip at Michigan State, Scalia said, “We’ve just got to bring (the team) together more.”

“I mean, you can kind of tell we’re not playing connected, and sometimes not really for each other,” the junior from Stillwater said. “The biggest thing is just getting everyone on the same page and at least giving 100 percent effort.”

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4 die in frigid conditions on Canada-MN border; Florida man charged with human smuggling

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4 die in frigid conditions on Canada-MN border; Florida man charged with human smuggling

EMERSON, MANITOBA — Four people, including an infant, were found dead just north of the Canada-Minnesota border, authorities announced Thursday, and a Florida man has been charged with human smuggling in relation to the incident.

According to a news release from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the bodies of an adult man, woman and infant were discovered at approximately 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. The body of another male, believed to be a teenager, was discovered shortly thereafter. All of the victims were located some 40 feet from the U.S.-Canada border on the Canadian side just east of Emerson, Manitoba.

Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy, commander of the RCMP in Manitoba, told reporters Thursday the incident is “an absolute and heartbreaking tragedy,” the Winnipeg Free Press reported.

According to a Thursday news release from the U.S. Department of Justice, Steve Shand, 47, of Florida was arrested after Border Patrol agents stopped a white passenger van about 1 mile south of the border, between the Lancaster, Minn., and Pembina, N.D., ports of entry. Agents asked for the identification of the two passengers in the van and found they were undocumented Indian nationals.

As the agents were transporting Shand and the passengers to the Pembina Border Patrol Station, they encountered five additional Indian nationals approximately a quarter mile south of the Canadian border, walking in the direction of where Shand was arrested. They said they had walked across the border expecting to be picked up. Members of the group estimated they had been walking around for over 11 hours.

One person in that group said he was carrying a backpack for a family of four Indian nationals that had earlier walked with his group but had become separated during the night. The backpack contained children’s clothes, a diaper, toys and some medication.

Officers of the RCMP were alerted to a possible situation after Border Patrol agents encountered the group of people who had crossed into the U.S. from Canada near Emerson. Agents informed the RCMP that one of the individuals was carrying items that were meant for an infant, but no infant was with that group.

The RCMP began a search of the area approximately 6 miles east of Emerson shortly after 9:20 a.m. Wednesday, after being alerted by their American counterparts.

According to the release, the four individuals appear to have died of exposure. RCMP officers are working to identify the individuals, and autopsies have been scheduled to confirm the cause of death.

Temperatures around northwest Minnesota and near Emerson were frigid late Tuesday into early Wednesday, with highs below zero on Wednesday. Temperatures were as low as minus-13 without wind chill.

The bodies were tentatively identified as the family of four that was separated from the other group. Two of the surviving Indian nationals suffered serious injuries and were transported to hospitals, including one in St. Paul.

In an updated release Thursday night, the RCMP said a thorough grid search was done of the area and no other victims were found.

The RCMP is investigating the incident in collaboration with U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Shand is suspected of being a part of a larger human smuggling operation, according to a court document filed with the U.S. District Court in Minnesota.

The investigation into this, and the deaths of the four people in Canada, is ongoing. According to court documents, one of the Indian nationals reportedly said that he paid a “significant amount of money to enter Canada from India under a fraudulently obtained student visa.” The Indian national did not intend to study in Canada, but to enter the U.S. illegally, the court document said.

According to the court document, Shand had apparently rented a van from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Monday. It appears he made a stop at a Walmart in Fargo, N.D., on Tuesday; a receipt was found in the vehicle with the drinks and snacks that were found inside.

When he was arrested on Wednesday he was driving in a rural area away from other services, homes or ports of entry into Canada, according to the court document. He was also driving through blowing snow and snowdrifts. The court document says weather was “severe at the time with high winds, blowing snow and temperatures well below zero.” The area is also known by the Border Patrol as “a high incident area for human smuggling,” the document said.

Recently, there have been three separate incidents of human smuggling that occurred at the same location where Shand was arrested, the court document said.

Authorities had observed boot prints in the snow made by three people who had walked across the border at the location on Jan. 12. The boot prints apparently matched the same brand of boots being worn by the seven foreign nationals who were taken into custody when Shand was arrested.

Two other human smuggling incidents also apparently occurred in December 2021.

Court documents say a woman who was detained stopped breathing several times while in custody and may need to have part of her hand amputated due to frostbite.

Authorities also found a receipt from the La Quinta hotel in Grand Forks, N.D., dated Jan. 11, indicating this may not have been Shand’s first time in the area.

In a Thursday evening news release from the Border Patrol, Grand Forks Sector Chief Patrol Agent Anthony S. Good said he was saddened by the deaths.

“I am saddened there was loss of life and the fact a small child died makes it even more difficult. Our hearts go out to the families and loved ones,” Good said in a statement, adding he was “incredibly proud” of the agents and RCMP partners who searched in the cold for the missing persons.

He added that “anyone thinking of crossing the border illegally in these treacherous conditions should not do it.”

“Smugglers only care about the money they are going to make and have zero regard for lives lost,” he said in the statement.

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Walz proposes $350 rebate checks from budget surplus; Republicans call it ‘election year gimmick’

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Walz proposes $350 rebate checks from budget surplus; Republicans call it ‘election year gimmick’
Gov. Tim Walz announces his plan for spending part of the state’s projected $7.75 billion budget surplus during a news conference at Minneapolis Community College on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. (Dana Ferguson / Forum News Service)

Minnesota households could be eligible for up to $350 direct payments, and front-line workers that stayed on the job during the pandemic could receive an extra $1,500 this year, under a plan that Gov. Tim Walz proposed Thursday.

The Democratic-Farmer-Labor governor said Minnesotans should benefit from the state’s $7.75 billion budget surplus. And as part of his plan for the funds, more than $4 billion would go toward direct payments, worker recruitment and retention programs, grants for farmers and broadband expansion.

Walz rolled out his ideas for the surplus during a Thursday news conference at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. And he said Minnesotans, the state’s greatest asset, should reap the benefits of the state’s strong financial position.

“This is about expanding an already vibrant economy, it’s about making sure we’re lifting up those were hurt hardest during the pandemic and it’s making sure there’s a long-range vision about where Minnesota’s going,” Walz said, “and we’re well positioned to do that.”

Lawmakers in the divided Capitol have split over the best way to spend the projected budget surplus and will likely spend months debating how the state ought to use it.

Walz said he would propose three uses for the funds:

  • Economic opportunities
  • Helping kids and families
  • Advancing health and safety

Ultimately, it will be up to legislators to decide which ideas move forward. Republicans, who control the Senate, and Democrats, who lead the House of Representatives, are set to unveil their priorities for the budget surplus over the next week.

Republican lawmakers on Thursday said they appreciated Walz’s proposal to spend $2.7 billion to repay the federal government and replenish the state’s unemployment trust fund. If lawmakers don’t act, businesses would see a payroll tax increase to cover it.

But they said the proposal to send out checks of up to $350 to people who make $164,400 or less was a political move.

“Walz checks are nothing more than an election year gimmick, and it will barely cover the inflationary costs of everyday necessities,” Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, said. “We’ll propose permanent, ongoing, targeted tax relief for working Minnesotans so they see savings every single year.”

While they agreed to spend $250 million to pay out to front-line workers over the summer, efforts to decide who should get the checks fell short this fall. And unrelated issues prevented a $10 million drought relief package for farmers from passing through the Capitol.

Walz urged lawmakers to put those financial supports first when they return to the Capitol on Jan. 31.

“Minnesotans want results,” he said.

House Democrats earlier in the day said they would prioritize hero pay for front-line workers, state programs for paid family leave, as well as earned sick and safe time, broadband expansion and affordable housing as the best uses for the surplus money.

And they said they were hopeful that having a $7.75 billion excess would allow more of their goals to get across the finish line this year.

“I think the existence of the surplus makes a huge difference in the practical reality of getting something like this proposal done,” said House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park.

While the DFL-led House has put forward and passed paid family leave and earned sick and safe time before, the GOP-controlled Senate hasn’t supported the proposals.

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce said the paid family leave program could stunt future economic growth and undermine the benefits of having the state cover the cost for the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund.

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