In El Paso, migrants struggle to get in out of the cold. Key Jan. 6 witness says Trump-linked lawyer pressured her on testimony. Chinese state media downplays COVID surge, deaths.
Migrants in El Paso struggle to find shelter in below freezing temperatures
Even though the Supreme Court temporarily blocked the lifting of Title 42 this week, a steady stream of migrants continues to flow over the southern border into towns like El Paso, TX. For weeks, the city has been calling on state and federal government resources to help process, shelter and transfer the migrants out of the area. Earlier this week, El Paso’s mayor declared a state of emergency in hopes of unlocking more help.
With most of El Paso’s existing shelters overrun, many migrants have had to make do sleeping on the street, in bus stations or the small local airport. But now in El Paso, as in much of the country, temperatures are dropping below freezing thanks to a massive Arctic wind and cold front. This has left the migrants, many of whom have young children or babies in tow, struggling to find places to get in out of the cold.
The city-run shelters still have some room, but some migrants say they have been denied access to these shelters. The federal government has kicked in some money for the municipal shelters and is requiring the city to admit only migrants with immigration paperwork. Migrants that crossed the border undetected don’t have this paperwork. Even families with children are being turned away if they don’t have these documents. There are some local churches and charity-run shelters that are open to everyone, but they are largely full themselves.
Key Jan. 6 witness says Trump-linked lawyer pressured her on testimony
This summer, Cassidy Hutchinson, former assistant to Trump Chief-of-staff Mark Meadows, gave extensive testimony in a televised hearing of the Congressional Jan. 6 committee. Her testimony covered events she was privy to leading from the weeks immediately following Trump’s loss in the Nov. 2020 election up to the events of Jan. 6. Both in her televised live testimony and recorded testimony, Hutchinson shed light on the motivations and actions of major players in Trump’s orbit.
The Jan. 6 Committee has wrapped up its work, issuing an 800-page report after issuing four criminal referrals for former Pres. Trump to the Justice Department. A day before releasing its full report, the committee released the full transcripts of Hutchinson’s testimony. This release included information that had not previously been public knowledge.
One key revelation has to do with efforts by Trump world to influence testimony given before the committee. The committee members previously revealed that witnesses (including at least one whose testimony was not televised) received messages from people close to Trump seeking to influence them. We now know that Hutchinson herself was one of them.
Unable to pay the prices of other lawyers she contacted, Hutchinson initially retained the services of Stefan Passantino to represent her in her dealings with the committee. Passantino’s fees were paid by allies of Trump. Hutchinson told the committee Passantino had advised her not to cooperate with the committee and to instead risk a contempt charge. When she decided to go to the committee anyway, Passantino allegedly told her “the less you remember, the better”.
Chinese state media downplays COVID surge, deaths
Following months of economic turmoil and recent social unrest, China has at last rolled back its strict “Zero COVID” policies. For over two years, any city with even just a few COVID infections would immediately be locked down. This policy focused on restricting the spread of COVID, but at enormous economic and social cost. Meanwhile, the government seems to have done little to prepare for the day when the policy would end. The country’s vaccination campaign is lagging significantly behind, even among the elderly who are most at risk. There’s also been little effort to increase the number of hospital and ICU beds.
Now that the policy has ended, China is experiencing a predictable explosion of COVID infections. The infection is spreading rapidly among the population that has less immunity from exposure or immunization than other countries at this point. There’s also anecdotal evidence suggesting a massive rise in COVID-related deaths. However, China’s state media has been downplaying the number of deaths. Thousands on Chinese social media have reported the deaths of loved ones, particularly the elderly. Hospitals in major cities are turning people away for lack of beds and crematoria have at least a 10 day waiting list.
Despite this, Chinese state media reports only 8 COVID deaths this month! After receiving massive ridicule for this from average citizens, the government revealed it only counts deaths from pneumonia or respiratory failure are classified as COVID deaths. Deaths from various inflammatory syndromes caused by COVID or people with pre-existing conditions are not being counted.
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