News Wrap: CDC director stands by guidance for masks in schools

In our news wrap Tuesday, the CDC's director stuck by guidance to wear masks in public schools, Canadian officials warn of mounting economic harm from protests, retired Pope Benedict acknowledged mistakes in handling sexual abuse by clergy, a congressional commission calls for a new strategy on the opioid epidemic, and American Nathan Chen racked up a record performance in men's figure skating.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news: The CDC's director stuck by existing guidance to wear masks in public schools to guard against COVID-19.

    Dr. Rochelle Walensky spoke a day after four states announced that they will soon lift indoor mask mandates. She said she believes that caseloads will fall below crisis levels, but, in her words, "We are not there right now."

    Canadian officials warned today of mounting economic harm from protests against COVID vaccinations. A truckers' blockade of Central Ottawa continued, despite the prime minister's demand that it end. And, since Monday, trucks have tied up the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. It carries 25 percent of all trade between the two countries.

    A split in Republican ranks has widened over the January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol. On Friday, the Republican National Committee censured two GOP House members for taking part in the January 6 investigation.

    Today, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell joined other lawmakers criticizing that move.

  • Sen. Mitch McConnel (R-KY):

    The issue is whether or not the RNC should be sort of singling out members of our party who may have different views from the majority. That's not the job of the RNC.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    McConnell also rejected the RNC's labeling of the events of January 6 as legitimate political discourse. He said — quote — "It was a violent insurrection."

    In Minneapolis, police have arrested a 17-year-old cousin of Amir Locke in the homicide probe that led officers to a fatal encounter with Locke. He was shot and killed by a SWAT team officer during a no-knock search last week. Today, students at several high schools in the Twin Cities area staged walkouts. They demanded justice and an end to no-knock warrants.

    A judge in Michigan heard evidence today on whether to try the parents of an accused school shooter for involuntary manslaughter. James and Jennifer Crumbley face scrutiny for their actions leading up to the November attack.

    In court, a co-worker recalled talking with Mrs. Crumbley about her son's drawings of weapons hours before he allegedly killed four students.

    Amanda Holland, Co-Worker of Jennifer Crumbley: She said that she felt like a failure as a parent, and she showed me a photo of what Ethan had drawn at school. I said she should have brought him home.

  • Woman:

    And why did you say that?

  • Amanda Holland:

    I felt it was a disturbing photo, and I thought this child needed to be around family. That's what I would have done, and I thought that — I told her I thought that's what she should have done.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Defense attorneys argued today that the Crumbleys had no idea there might be trouble.

    The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill today that would prohibit forced arbitration for claims of sexual assault and harassment. The longstanding practice often benefits employers and keeps accusations from becoming public knowledge. The bill passed with substantial bipartisan support.

    The University of California will pay out more than $240 million to settle a sexual abuse lawsuit at UCLA. More than 200 women claimed that Dr. James Heaps, a former UCLA gynecologist, abused and groped them. They charged that the university ignored decades of complaints.

    Retired Pope Benedict has acknowledged mistakes in handling sexual abuse by clergy when he was archbishop of Munich. He asked for forgiveness today, but denied any specific wrongdoing.

    In a letter released by the Vatican, Benedict said — quote — "I have had great responsibilities. All the greater is my pain for the abuses and the errors that occurred."

    The White House sought today to move beyond the resignation of Eric Lander, President Biden's top science adviser. He stepped down last night over complaints that he had mistreated his staff. Officials had initially signaled he'd be allowed to stay.

    Today, they said the president did not ask him to leave.

  • Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary:

    From the outset, Dr. Lander's behavior was unacceptable. Senior White House officials conveyed that to him directly at the conclusion of the investigation. He could no longer lead OSTP effectively, and he conveyed that in his letter. The president accepted his resignation.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    When he was inaugurated, President Biden had pledged that he would fire any abusive staffer on the spot.

    A bipartisan congressional commission is calling for a new strategy on the opioid overdose epidemic. In a report today, the group envisions stepped-up law enforcement and diplomacy to shut off ingredients for synthetic opioids. It also called for more treatment for addicts. The report advocates Cabinet-level status for the White House drug czar.

    Automakers Hyundai and Kia have recalled nearly 485,000 vehicles in the U.S. because they might catch fire even when they are turned off. The affected SUVs and sedans are from model years ranging between 2014 and 2019. Owners are advised to park the vehicles outside and not in a garage.

    On Wall Street today, tech stocks and banks pushed the broader market higher. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 371 points to close at 35462. The Nasdaq rose 178 points. The S&P 500 added 37.

    And, at the Winter Olympics, American Nathan Chen racked up a world-record performance in men's figure skating. Chen scored the most points ever in the men's short program. He could wrap up the gold medal tomorrow.

    Meanwhile, American-born freestyle skier Eileen Gu won gold for China in the women's big air competition

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