Census: Relief programs staved off hardship in COVID crash
WASHINGTON — Massive government relief passed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic moved millions of Americans out of poverty last year, even as the official poverty rate increased slightly, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday.
The official poverty measure showed an increase of 1 percentage point in 2020, with 11.4% of Americans living in poverty, or more than 37 million people. It was the first increase in poverty after five consecutive annual declines.
Yet the Census Bureau’s supplemental measure of poverty, which takes into account government benefit programs and stimulus payments, showed that the share of people in poverty dropped significantly after the aid was factored in.
Tropical Storm Nicholas slows, dumps rain along Gulf Coast
SURFSIDE BEACH, Texas — Tropical Storm Nicholas slowed to a crawl over the Houston area Tuesday after making landfall earlier as a hurricane, knocking out power to a half-million homes and businesses and dumping more than a foot of rain along the same area swamped by Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
Nicholas could potentially stall over storm-battered Louisiana and bring life-threatening floods across the Deep South over the coming days, forecasters said.
Nicholas made landfall early Tuesday on the eastern part of the Matagorda Peninsula and was soon downgraded to a tropical storm. It was about 30 miles southeast of Houston, with maximum winds of 40 mph as of 1 p.m. CDT Tuesday, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Fate of California Gov. Gavin Newsom hangs on recall vote
LONG BEACH, Calif. — After a campaign that laid bare divisions in America’s most populous state, Californians on Tuesday were to decide whether to keep Gov. Gavin Newsom in his job or to move the state in a more conservative direction.
Newsom was leading in polls but took nothing for granted, aggressively campaigning and bringing in national Democratic figures to urge voters to reject the recall.
He got a final push late Monday from President Joe Biden, who warned that the contest could shape the country’s direction on the pandemic, reproductive rights and the battle to slow climate change. The results also are likely to influence the 2022 midterm elections, when control of Congress will be in play again. The party that controls the White House historically loses seats in midterms.
Ex-cops accused of violating Floyd’s rights plead not guilty
MINNEAPOLIS — Four former Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd’s civil rights pleaded not guilty Tuesday in a federal hearing that included arguments on several pretrial motions, including requests to hold separate trials.
A federal grand jury indicted Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao in May for allegedly depriving Floyd of his rights while acting under government authority on May 25, 2020, as Floyd, 46, was held face-down, handcuffed and not resisting in a restraint that was captured on bystander video. His death led to worldwide protests and calls for change in policing.
All four of the men appeared at the hearing remotely via videoconference. Chauvin, wearing a plain T-shirt, appeared from a small room in the state’s maximum security prison, where he is serving a 22 1/2-year sentence for murder in Floyd’s death. The other three men appeared remotely alongside their attorneys.
Slaughter of dolphins on Faeroes sparks debate on traditions
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — The slaughter of 1,428 white-sided dolphins over the weekend, part of a four-century-old traditional drive of sea mammals into shallow water where they are killed for their meat and blubber, has reignited a debate on the small Faeroe Islands.
The hunt in the North Atlantic islands is not commercial and is authorized, but environmental activists claim it is cruel. Even people in the Faeroes who defend the traditional practice worry that this year’s hunt will draw unwanted attention because it was far larger than previous ones and seemingly took place without the usual organization.
Heri Petersen, the foreman of a group that drives pilot whales toward shore on the central Faeroese island of Eysturoy, where the killings took place Sunday, said he was not told about the dolphin drive and “strongly dissociated” himself from it.
He told the news outlet in.fo. that there were too many dolphins and too few people on the beach to slaughter them.