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The aftermath of the riot and the outbreak has developed a toxic environment on Capitol Hill.



The aftermath of the riot and the outbreak has developed a toxic environment on Capitol Hill.
The aftermath of the riot and the outbreak has developed a toxic environment on Capitol Hill.

The aftermath of the riot and the outbreak has developed a toxic environment on Capitol Hill.


The mood in the United States Capitol is so grim that a Democratic representative let an elevator pass him by rather than travel with Republican colleagues who voted against Joe Biden’s election being certified.

Republicans argue that Democrats just need to move on from the deadly Capitol attack on Jan. 6, repeal COVID-19 limits, and try to reach across the aisle for bipartisanship.

The legislative branch has become highly toxic and unsettled in the first 100 days of the new Congress, with legislators irritated by the virus’s work-from-home limitations and wary of one another in the wake of the devastating riot over Trump’s presidency.

Trust is poor, settled facts about the Jan. 6 riot are obviously up for discussion, and wary, tired lawmakers are unsure how or when the “People’s House” will return to normal, particularly in the House, which is still partially shut down by the pandemic and where lawmakers heard gunshots ring out during the siege.

One of the country’s younger congresswomen described it as “heartbreaking” to see what has happened to the institution she loved, in the country she vowed to protect from foreign and domestic enemies.

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., first elected in 2018, said, “You know, I do sometimes just close my eyes and, like, imagine this place in the way that it used to be, and how accommodating it was.”

She is a Somali immigrant who said she uses coping skills she acquired as a child during wartime to reach the razor-wire fenced Capitol, which is now guarded by armed National Guard members, to “try to believe it that isn’t what it is.”

The toxic scars from the historic, unparalleled incidents have been revealed in the first months of the year. The effects go far beyond the historic Capitol building’s smashed windows and gouged walls, to the loss of everyday activities and tourists that were the daily hum of democracy. Legislators have less chances to speak to each other, exchange thoughts, and calm fears in the wake of the riot due to virtual meetings and socially distanced votes.

Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Illinois, said, “The mood is toxic.” “I know, it’s bad enough to be in the minority, but it’s even worse when the partisan temperature is so high.”

It reached a breaking point this week when a dozen Republicans voted no to award the Congressional Gold Medal to law enforcement officers who protected the Capitol, citing the resolution’s reference to “insurrectionists” who attacked the “temple” of American democracy. Democrats were taken aback.

Despite the tense environment, the House is pushing forward with Biden’s platform, with the Democratic majority passing a $1.9 trillion virus relief bill with no Republican support. The strains are slowing, but not stalling, progress on voting rights, gun background checks, and other legislative goals, but they leave the prospect of bipartisanship with Biden uncertain.

One thing is certain: the previous president’s legacy will live on in the legislative branch.

When politicians imitate Donald Trump’s style of politics, the Republican Party is being reshaped. Despite the fact that 300 people have been charged in the attack, Republican politicians have largely dismissed the revolt as a “protest.” Despite public health recommendations recommending vaccines, mask-wearing, and social isolation to avoid another outbreak, Republicans dismiss the House coronavirus restrictions.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said that few people wear pandemic masks anymore at events he attends back home, and that “the attitude is it’s time to get back to normal, get back to freedom.”

The minority leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., tried to say at a press conference this week that the GOP threats to Biden’s win were not intended to alter the election outcome — despite Trump encouraging his supporters to “fight like hell” as lawmakers were certifying the results on Jan. 6.

Five people were killed in the Capitol attack, including a woman who was shot by police and a police officer who died later from his injuries.

Hundreds of politicians have tested positive for the coronavirus, and two elected officials, both Republicans, have died from COVID-19, one just days before his inauguration on Jan. 3.

Last week, the House GOP leader wrote to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying that now that 75 percent of lawmakers have been vaccinated, the House should resume daily operations.

Pelosi replied on Friday that the aim is to achieve “100%” vaccination and social distancing enforcement.

The shortage of vaccines for thousands of employees and the 435 House representatives is one issue in resuming entirely in-person operations at the Capitol. Officials said that each House office has only received two doses so far. Six additional doses will be added as soon as next week.

Last spring, the Senate, which has 100 members, resumed much of its activities.

For the time being, House proxy voting, which was put in place to reduce the health risks of lawmakers traveling to Washington, will continue. The Capitol is also closed to visitors.

“There are moments where I’m very excited and really happy, because some very cool things are happening,” said Massachusetts Rep. Jim McGovern, who missed the elevator when he saw it was carrying Republicans challenging the presidential vote.

But politicians who “want to somehow say that, you know, this was an act of patriotic people coming to disagree?” irritate him, he said. Allow me to take a breather.”

Democrats seem to be more emotionally drained than House Republicans, who boosted their numbers amid Trump’s defeat in the last election. Their victories shortened the road to retaking control of the House in 2022.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, a Trump-aligned Republican, has begun clogging up Democrats’ floor operations by seeking roll calls on routine bills, bringing lawmakers’ stamina to the test as already lengthy House hearings drag into late-night sessions. Because of her long history of outrageous social media posts and other acts, the House voted in February to remove Greene from her committee assignments.

Although the Capitol’s security fence will be eliminated, metal detectors will remain outside the House chamber after several Republican lawmakers pledged to carry their weapons to the floor.

There is a lack of trust.

“How do you feel?” Among those who voted against the police medals was Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky. “Take a look at these metal detectors; we need to get squeegeed.”

“There may be some relationship building that needs to take place,” said Rep. Steve Palazzo, R-Miss.

Rep. Norma Torres, D-Calif., said she has spent sleepless nights in her mind replaying the horrific attack scenes.

She needs guarantees from her Republican colleagues that they’re all working for the same aim of “preserving our democracy.”

“We have to be stronger than we are if we want to get back to normal,” she said.

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Storm survey: RV park decimated by EF-3 tornado in Fredericktown



Storm survey: RV park decimated by EF-3 tornado in Fredericktown

MADISON COUNTY, Mo. – Located about 90 miles south of St. Louis, Fredericktown appeared to have sustained the worst of the damage from the strongest tornado to hit the region Sunday evening.

A National Weather Service survey team reported at least an EF-3 tornado hit the area, pending further investigation. The Enhanced Fujita Scale goes from 0-5, with 0 being the weakest.

EF-3 tornados have wind speeds of up to 165 miles per hour.

The view of widespread damage on the outskirts of town from Bommarito Automotive Group SkyFox was staggering. Up close, the views on the ground were heartbreaking.

A home just behind 72 West Motors RV/Camper sales off of Highway 72 had its roof torn off. Five people were inside hoping to make it out alive. Fortunately, they did.

“As soon as I said, ‘I think we need to go downstairs,’ it felt like a bomb going off behind me, which was the roof getting ripped off and falling in and all the attic insulation blinding everybody,” said A.J. Smith, standing outside the roofless house. “As this was happening, I ran into my dad’s room. I shook him real quick. He jumped up. I just scooped him up like a little baby and ran downstairs.”

They huddled near a basement support beam, he said.

The entire fleet of 50 new campers at 72 West Motors was damaged or destroyed; campers worth $40,000 to $100,000 or more.

Across the highway and nearby fields, the Black River Electrical Cooperative was also wiped out, along with a couple more homes and businesses.

Most of Black River’s repair trucks were idled awaiting a damage assessment, Monday, as opposed to be used to restore customers’ power.

“We’re used to that (role) but not this (being a tornado victim),” a spokesman said.

Enough trucks remained in service and/or were brought in from the other providers to have power restored to about 5,000 of 6,400 customers who lost service as of 3:00 p.m. Monday, he said.

No one was hurt.

No one was hurt at 72 West Motors either.

“I’ve never been through it. I’ve seen this stuff on TV. I’ve always felt bad for the families. I never thought I’d be one of them,” said Gary Stephens, owner of 72 West Motors. “I know what it feels like to be one of them and it’s not a very good feeling. “There’s always a bright side you know. I’ve got so many friends that’s come by here, so many people, customers drove plum from Springfield. Nobody got hurt. All my family is good and all my workers. My workers mean a lot to me.”

Homes and businesses within the Fredericktown city limits suffered very little damage but most were without power.

They are on the municipal power grid and not Black River’s.

It could be days before everyone’s power is restored, according to authorities.

Missouri State Highway Patrol Lt. Michael Lynch said as of late Monday night there was no curfew set in place for Fredericktown. He said it is not safe for people to be out on the roadways at night if they don’t have to, because there is still debris in on roadways.

Lynch added that authorities have rolling street closures to allow linemen and crews room to work while they restore power.

“The fact that nobody was hurt, best-case scenario for a bad situation, we had no reported injuries, from that we had one reported afterwards and it was relatively minor considering everything,” he said.

Lynch said there was one report of a minor hand injury after, but he believes it was an injury from cleaning up or being in the rubble. 

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service is still looking for damage. They are asking the public to tweet pictures of it to them with the hashtags #mowx #ilwx. They are using the images to ask people if they would like to participate in a damage survey.

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  • Fredericktown, Missouri
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  • Fredericktown, Missouri
  • Fredericktown, Missouri
  • Fredericktown, Missouri
  • Fredericktown, Missouri
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  • 1635195080 306 Storm survey EF 3 tornado hit near Fredericktown Sunday
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  • 1635195080 161 Storm survey EF 3 tornado hit near Fredericktown Sunday
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  • 1635195080 286 Storm survey EF 3 tornado hit near Fredericktown Sunday
  • 1635195080 628 Storm survey EF 3 tornado hit near Fredericktown Sunday
  • 1635195080 587 Storm survey EF 3 tornado hit near Fredericktown Sunday
  • 1635195080 530 Storm survey EF 3 tornado hit near Fredericktown Sunday
  • 1635195080 912 Storm survey EF 3 tornado hit near Fredericktown Sunday
  • 1635195080 634 Storm survey EF 3 tornado hit near Fredericktown Sunday
  • 1635195080 209 Storm survey EF 3 tornado hit near Fredericktown Sunday

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EF-2 tornado in north-central Missouri hits propane supplier business; on ground for 30 miles



EF-2 tornado in north-central Missouri hits propane supplier business; on ground for 30 miles

LINN COUNTY, Mo. – An EF-2 tornado was on the ground for more than 30 miles Sunday in north-central Missouri that hit a propane supplier and left some without a home.

Linn County Emergency Management Director Shelby Creed said the tornado was on the ground as it traveled across the entire county for 31 miles.

“I really wasn’t sure how bad it was until we got out there today and did some preliminary damage assessments and actually got to see how bad it was,” Creed said Monday.

The tornado touched down around 4:30 p.m. after residents in Linn County were on high alert for severe weather.

“We then paged out the effective fire departments to activate the storm spotters, then set off the sirens for the effective towns in Linn County,” Creed said.

The National Weather Service spent Monday surveying the damage before confirming it was an EF-2 tornado that hit Purdin, the north-central part of the county. A propane business known as MO Energy Propane was hit, throwing the office building off its foundation. The 120-mile per hour winds tossed empty propane tanks around. On Monday, the property was covered in shingles, wood pieces, parts of the steel structure, and office supplies.

Along Missouri Route 5 across from the propane business, the tree line was covered in debris like shed siding, installation, and other objects. A home on Expo Lane, about a mile southwest of the propane business, was ripped apart; the entire roof, garage, and shed were gone. Family members of the homeowners said the couple was down in the basement when the tornado hit.

“There was quite a bit of damage,” Creed said. “I’m really surprised we did not get more calls. There’s quite a bit of damage to houses, some trees, outside buildings, and power lines.”

The tornado traveled for more than 30 miles before stopping at the county line. Creed said the county is still assessing all the damage.

“It’s a pretty rural area where the storm went through so in the rural areas, everybody kind of takes care of themselves and their neighbors so they really did not call 911 or the admin line,” Creed said.

By Monday afternoon, friends, family, and neighbors came together to pick up the pieces.

“Make sure you have a plan, you have a bag or a tote ready in case you do need to seek shelter and know where you can seek shelter,” Creed said.

Once complete, the county hopes to pass the damage assessment off to the State’s Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) to see if state aid is needed.

Owners of the propane business did not want to go on camera but said luckily the tanks on the property were empty.

Fortunately, no was in Linn County was hurt from Sunday’s storms. Creed said the American Red Cross is in the county assessing damage but those who lost their home or have damage are staying with family and friends.

“There are community members that are very helping to their neighbors in Linn County,” Creed said. “It makes it a lot easier.”

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Olivia Munn deals with that nasty voice in her head in ‘Violet’



Olivia Munn deals with that nasty voice in her head in ‘Violet’

What if you had a voice in your head — a voice that never stopped its cascade of negative thoughts?

That’s the premise of “Violet,” Justine Bateman’s writing-directing debut arriving Friday in theaters with Olivia Munn (“The Newsroom,” “The Predator”) as Violet, a successful Hollywood executive plagued by inner demons only she can hear.

“I think Violet is going through a lot of the same things that a lot of us are going through,” Munn, 41, said in a Zoom interview.

“At least for me, I can say that I have my whole life struggled with negative thoughts that make for fear-based decisions. In this film we call that ‘the voice.’

“And this film is really a map to your real self and shutting down that voice, shutting down those fear-based thoughts and decisions.”

As “Violet” unfolds, we see writing on the screen and hear a continuous stream of negativity with Justin Theroux’s voice.

In contrast, we see how Violet rules at her job, lunches with friends, bonds with her roommate (Luke Bracey, “Little Fires Everywhere”). She seems serene, confident, happy even.

“A big part of what we see happen with Violet,” Munn said, “is she’s trying to figure out what’s really her issue with these negative thoughts. Is she something better than that? Does she have a lot more self-love for herself than it may appear?

“Because when you actually hear those thoughts audibly and you hear Justin — that’s a big reason why Justine wanted to use a voice that was not even close to my voice. Because that voice is oftentimes something that feels like another person inside of you.

“So, it’s the erosion of what can happen when you appear one way, and you’re struggling with so much self-doubt and self-hate on the other side.”

It’s not a gender-based condition; it’s not something that afflicts only women. But how to silence that poisonous stream of invective? Therapy?

“I don’t think it’s something that is just cured overnight,” Munn offered. “The biggest thing is realizing that so many people can feel the same things.

“That is what’s been really amazing with this film: seeing the response from people who have seen the film and realizing that they relate to this, too. They relate to Justine’s words and that voice and understanding.

“That’s been really amazing to witness. And for Justine as well. To be like, Wow! there are some people who feel this way, or at least can recognize it. That has made me feel like, ‘Okay, I’m not one of the only ones who struggle with this.’ ”

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