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New York City police arrest man for 3 separate attacks on Asian Americans

Joseph Russo, 27, is facing multiple hate crime charges.

Joseph Russo, 27, was taken into custody Wednesday and charged with multiple counts of assault as a hate crime and aggravated harassment as a hate crime in connection with all three incidents, according to the New York City Police Department.

The first incident occurred in the Gravesend neighborhood of Brooklyn on March 5 at around 9:20 a.m. local time. Russo allegedly pushed a 64-year-old Asian American woman on a sidewalk, knocking her down. The woman suffered pain to the left side of her body but refused medical attention at the scene, police said.

The second incident happened near the Madison neighborhood of Brooklyn on March 22 at around 7:45 a.m. local time. Russo allegedly grabbed a 32-year-old Asian American woman on a sidewalk and pulled her hair, causing pain to her head and neck. The woman refused medical attention at the scene, according to police.

The third and most recent incident occurred in the Homecrest neighborhood of Brooklyn on Monday at around 11:15 a.m. local time. Russo allegedly shoved a 77-year-old Asian American man who was looking at vegetables for sale in front of a market. The man fell to the ground and suffered some bruising to his arm but refused medical attention at the scene, police said.

The attacks were the latest in a spate of violence targeting Asian Americans in New York City and across the nation. The coronavirus pandemic and its suspected origins in the Chinese city of Wuhan is cited as having led to a fresh onslaught of anti-Asian discrimination in the United States that has waged on for over year.

From March 19, 2020, to Feb. 28, 2021, there were more than 3,795 hate incidents, including verbal harassment and physical assault, against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States that were reported to Stop AAPI Hate, a nonprofit organization that tracks such incidents.

In recent weeks, the New York City Police Department has ramped up patrols in predominately Asian communities. Asian American officers are also working undercover in areas that have had hate crimes, police said. One of those undercover officers was able to step in and make an arrest during an anti-Asian incident in the Chinatown neighborhood of Manhattan on Tuesday, marking the first arrest by the new initiative, according to police.

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The pandemic ruined one musicals debut plans. Not for long

NEW YORK — Huge waves couldn’t stop Tori Murden McClure from becoming the first American to row across the Atlantic Ocean solo in 1999. So it’s only fitting that a global pandemic couldn’t stop a musical about her feat from making it to audiences — just not the way it was originally intended.

“Row,” which was scheduled to make its stage debut at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts in the summer 2020, is instead making its world premiere this month as a recording available on Audible.

“This whole process has been like a slow blossoming,” said Dawn Landes, who wrote the songs and lyrics. “It’s really become a completely unique piece of art, which I never really could have even imagined.”

When “Row” is released Thursday, it becomes a rare work — a world premiere musical that’s never first had any sort of stage production. Without visuals, the team had to create space and time with audio cues.

“The amount of work and back and forth and technical things that you have to deal with to make a new musical in this medium is exponentially more than when you’re in the room and can just try stuff,” said book writer Daniel Goldstein.

To complicate matters, all 10 actors and 9 musicians were never in the same room together due to COVID-19 restrictions. And none of the music had been recorded prior to lockdown.

Never more than three actors were allowed at a time in Audible’s Manhattan studio to record their parts and each was in isolation booths, listening to each other on headphones. An engineer, music director Mary-Mitchell Campbell and director Tyne Rafaeli were also on site.

The musicians — apart from a string quartet that had podded together during the pandemic — were remote and had their parts mixed into the final product. Rehearsals were done by Zoom. Even the writers were remote.

“You couldn’t dream this up: a show that’s about isolation, having each person involved on the team being in actual isolation while working on it,” said Landes.

Because of the fear of virus transmission, the actors were given each day’s script pages wrapped in plastic and weren’t allowed to bring them back the next day. A car service ferried them home for lunch so they didn’t have to go to a restaurant and risk infection.

“Row” is the festival’s final offering this season and represents the first ever traditional book musical for the world’s largest producer of audiobooks and spoken-word entertainment.

“We just sort of went into it in that spirit of like, ‘Yeah, why not? We’ll figure it out,’” said Kate Navin, executive producer at Theater Audible. “We’re going to do more musicals. So I kind of figure they can only be easier from here on out.”

When the pandemic threatened the festival’s summer offerings, Williamstown Theatre Festival’s Artistic Director Mandy Greenfield reached out to Navin with an ambitious request: Would they record their entire seven-show season — six plays and “Row”? Navin had already been mulling how Audible could fill the gap and agreed to push off into the unknown.

“If you ossify, you die,” said Greenfield. “It goes back to the story of ‘Row’ — it reminds you of the resilience and the singular power of the human spirit to persevere.”

The musical frames rowing across the ocean as McClure’s attempt to face — and defeat — helplessness. One of her brothers, Lamar, was learning-disabled, and Tori was his protector growing up, always defending him from bullies.

During her sea journey, McClure — played by Grace McLean — reads “Moby Dick” and quotes from F. Scott Fitzgerald and Aristotle. She communes with the spirit of Amelia Earhart and listeners learn of her life though flashbacks.

Other actors play Lamar, journalists and friends, as well as her husband-to-be, Mac McClure. There’s even an appearance from the iconic Muhammad Ali, who inspired McClure. Throughout is the sound of water, seabirds and oars pulling through the ocean

“Sound design becomes a much more important part of the story because we have to make sure we always understand when she’s in the boat and when she’s having flashbacks and memories that are filling in the story,” said Navin.

The creators had already scheduled and cast the musical, building up so much momentum that they searched for a way to continue despite the pandemic. If they could, it meant actors and musicians could be paid and art could be made.

“It gave me a community during that time and I really clung to it. It was sort of a life raft for me,” said Landes. “I was just so happy to have something to hope for and something to do.”

Landes estimates she’s written 35 songs for the show — originally conceived eight years ago — over the years. The final mix thrillingly veers from folk to choral, power ballads and anthems.

The story of “Row” isn’t finished. The Williamstown Theatre Festival plans to stage it in front of an audience this summer — outdoors and across the street from the venue where it was to debut the year before.

“We will have to pull it back apart and figure out how to embrace the visual once again,” said Greenfield. “I think a lot of the choices we made for it in audio were really specifically engineered.”

And if the skies darken on show nights, so be it. The musical has endured worse. “Keep throwing it at us,” said Landes, laughing. “The whole thing happens outside anyway. What else you got? Drenching rain? We’re going to use that.”

———

Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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More than 172,000 migrants, most in nearly 2 decades, stopped at US-Mexico border in March

The number of unaccompanied minors taken into custody doubled from February.

Immigration authorities arrested or detained more than 172,000 migrants at the southwest border last month, according to administration officials.

The total number of Border Patrol apprehensions was the largest in a month since the early 2000s. The vast majority were taken into custody between U.S. ports of entry, while about 4,000 were stopped by port officials.

As the rapid expulsions continue for older families, Customs and Border Protection has seen some cases of “self separation,” according to the officials, where some families who are removed are sending their children on their own.

The number of unaccompanied children taken into custody roughly doubled from February to March, accounting for about 18,890 individuals, according to officials.

The numbers have continued to rise in early April. There was a significant spike in the number of unaccompanied minors taken into CBP custody on Tuesday, according to the latest Homeland Security stats. The number of kids in CBP custody stayed virtually the same from the day before while the number placed in HHS facilities grew by about 1,000.

There are now more than 20,200 unaccompanied minors in U.S. custody, according to the two agencies.

While the administration remains strained by the high numbers, it’s also becoming more capable of handling them as the Department of Health and Human Services brings a growing number of large, temporary shelters online. The average number of children transferred out of CBP custody each day has nearly doubled from 276 at the end of February to 507 at the end of March.

HHS has also worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to increase shelter space in existing facilities by about 1,500 by modifying COVID-19 mitigation measures to free up space that was previously left empty for social distancing. The administration has also brought in refugee resettlement and citizenship and immigration services staff to initiate the case management process of interviewing children and locating sponsors more quickly.

One official underscored the initial lack of preparedness at HHS and again laid blame on the prior administration.

“We are continuing to dig out of a hole that was left by the previous administration,” the official said.

Additionally, the officials supported several requests from Congress, including more authority to crack down on smugglers and criminal trafficking organizations, more technology at the border, infrastructure at ports of entry to hold asylum seekers and more asylum officers and immigration judges. They also implemented methods to speed up legal immigration.

“Nobody should have the expectation this is going to be solved overnight after four years of sort of potentially undermining the system,” one official said.

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Ex-Florida State football player accused of killing man

Investigators say a former Florida State football player had been involved in a scuffle with his girlfriend hours before he fatally shot one man and injured another

Travis Rudolph, 25, was ordered to remain in jail during a first appearance hearing in West Palm Beach on Thursday morning. He’s charged with one count of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted first-degree murder.

Deputies detailed the shooting in an affidavit released by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. Investigators said Rudolph’s girlfriend told them she called a male friend following the scuffle Wednesday. The friend and three other men then went to Rudolph’s home, where a fight broke out, the affidavit said. A witness told investigators that Rudolph ran after the men and shot at them with a rifle after they got back in their car and began to drive away.

Deputies found a man dead inside the vehicle and an injured man outside the car. Authorities arrested Rudolph a short time later.

The case now goes to a grand jury. Judge Charles Burton on Thursday forbade Rudolph from contacting any of the victims or their families. Rudolph told the judge he intends to hire an attorney.

Rudolph was Florida State’s leading receiver in 2015 and 2016. He left the team early to enter the NFL draft in 2017. He eventually signed with the New York Giants and then the Miami Dolphins. He also spent time with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League. The team released him Wednesday.

He gained national attention in 2016 when a video of him eating lunch with an autistic student during a team visit at a Tallahassee middle school went viral. Rudolph’s father died a year later after a gun accidentally discharged at a West Palm Beach strip club.

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Dems blast Oklahoma lawmaker who compared slavery, abortion

A white Republican lawmaker from southeast Oklahoma is coming under fire for comparing efforts to end abortion to the fight against slavery

OKLAHOMA CITY — A white Republican lawmaker from southeast Oklahoma is facing criticism for comparing lawmakers’ efforts to end abortion to the fight against slavery.

Rep. Jim Olsen, of Roland, made the comments Wednesday during a meeting of the House Public Health Committee that was considering several anti-abortion bills.

“None of us would like to be a slave,” Olsen said when asked to clarify his comments, according to KOCO-TV. “If I had my choice, I guess I’d be a slave. At least a slave has his life. Once your life is gone, it’s gone.”

House Democrats immediately denounced Olsen’s comments, and the state party asked for Olsen to be formally censured. A spokesman for House Speaker Charles McCall didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on whether Olsen would face disciplinary action.

“Today, we heard a claim that the abortion fight is bigger than the hundreds of years when African Americans were kidnapped and enslaved, with no control of their bodies, families, or even recognized as humans,” said Rep. Denise Brewer, D-Tulsa. “Those insensitive ideas are alive and well in our Capitol.”

Olsen said Thursday he stands by his comments.

“I made a very historically appropriate analogy. I never spoke positively of slavery,” Olsen said. “One evil at one time was acceptable in our society, and now it’s not. I look forward to the time when we stop killing babies.”

Last month, another Republican House member apologized after using a racist term to describe Black babies during debate on a separate abortion bill on the House floor.

Olsen’s bill would make it a felony to perform an abortion in Oklahoma, except to save the life of a pregnant woman, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The committee approved the measure, which now heads to the House for final consideration. It is one of several anti-abortion bills making its way to the governor’s desk.

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Lawyers raise a stink over Ghislaine Maxwells jail care

The rancorous fight over jail conditions for Ghislaine Maxwell are reaching new lows

The latest exchange in letters to a Manhattan federal court judge came this week as the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals scheduled oral arguments for late April on Maxwell’s appeal of her thrice-rejected application to be freed on bail before her July 12 sex trafficking trial.

Maxwell has been at a Brooklyn federal jail since her July arrest on charges she recruited three teenage girls for Epstein to sexually abuse in the 1990s. Charges were recently expanded to allege the sex trafficking of girls for Epstein to abuse in the early 2000s. Maxwell has pleaded not guilty.

Attorney Bobbi Sternheim wrote in a letter late Wednesday that an effort by prosecutors “to publicly embarrass and humiliate Ms. Maxwell in the hostile court of public opinion further erodes the likelihood that her case will be tried by a fair and impartial jury.”

She says Maxwell has been mistreated, including over 1,400 physical searches and flashlight checks to ensure she’s breathing every 15 minutes while she sleeps, as jail officials overreact to Epstein’s August 2019 self-inflicted death in a Manhattan jail as he awaited trial on sex charges.

The letter came a day after prosecutors got specific about Maxwell’s jail conditions as they refuted claims Sternheim made in February that her 59-year-old client was “withering to a shell of her former self — losing weight, losing hair, and losing her ability to concentrate.”

Sternheim had also alleged that Maxwell was physically abused when she was shoved into her cell by a guard prior to a pat-down search and then was retaliated against for reporting it when she was ordered to clean, sanitize and scrub the walls of a shower.

In their letter, prosecutors said an investigation of the pat-down search complaint proved Maxwell’s complaint unfounded.

They wrote that Maxwell was directed to clean her cell, not in retaliation, but because it had become “very dirty.” They noted that Maxwell “frequently did not flush her toilet after using it, which caused the cell to smell.”

Prosecutors said jail staff reported Maxwell, fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, to be physically healthy.

They said the jail’s medical staff monitor the 5-foot-7 Maxwell daily and weigh her weekly, finding her weight fluctuates between the 130s and the 140s, normal for her height. They said staff has not observed any noticeable hair loss.

In Wednesday’s letter, Sternheim criticized the government, calling it “debatable whether the public has a ‘right to know’ about Ms. Maxwell’s conditions of confinement.” She said prosecutors violated her client’s privacy rights by releasing medical information related to weight and vaccination status.

“She is weighed while clothed on scales that are erratic and not set to zero,” Sternheim said. “Her eyesight is failing, and her hair is thinning. The guards are far from qualified to assess Ms. Maxwell’s physical condition.”

As for Maxwell’s toilet, Sternheim said her client avoids using it in a cell closely observed by video and guards but flushes it frequently, as directed by guards, to help alleviate a stench from overflowing toilets in the cellblock above.

“Blaming Ms. Maxwell for the filth of her severely restricted environment is utterly misplaced. To suggest she willingly lives in squalor is absurd,” the lawyer said.

Sternheim said the building where Maxwell is held is permeated with mold and vermin, and even a salad she was given earlier this week had mold in it.

“Cockroaches and rodents are plentiful and glue tracks have been placed in Ms. Maxwell’s day area to help remediate the problem,” she said.

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Associate of Matt Gaetz could cooperate with probe as part of plea deal, say prosecutors

The associate, Joel Greenberg, was indicted in 2020 on sex trafficking charges.

Greenberg was indicted last year for allegedly trafficking a teenage girl for sex in 2017, and the Justice Department is also trying to determine whether Gaetz had sex with the 17-year-old, according to sources. Greenberg pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Thursday’s hearing, in a federal Orlando courtroom, ended with an agreement that if there is not a plea agreement in place by May 15, Greenberg’s trial will be moved to July. The trial was originally scheduled to start on June 1.

Following the hearing, Greenberg’s attorney, Fritz Scheller, told reporters, “I am sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today.”

Gaetz, who has denied any wrongdoing, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

The federal investigation targeting Gaetz is specifically looking into whether he and an associate in his home state of Florida provided cash or other things of value to women they had sex with after connecting online, sources have told ABC News.

Gaetz’s congressional office on Thursday released a statement attributed to “The Women of the Office of U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz” that defended the congressman against the allegations.

“In our office and under Congressman Gaetz’s leadership, women are not only respected, but have been encouraged time and time again to grow, achieve more, and ultimately, know our value,” said the statement, whose authors were not individually identified. “At no time has any one of us experienced or witnessed anything less than the utmost professionalism and respect. … Thus, we uniformly reject these allegations as false.”

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Countries worldwide hit new records for virus cases, deaths

In the United States, Detroit leaders began making a plan to knock on every door to persuade people to get vaccine shots.

Brazil this week became just the third country, after the U.S. and Peru, to report a 24-hour tally of COVID-19 deaths that exceeded 4,000. India hit a peak of almost 127,000 new cases in 24 hours, and Iran set a new coronavirus infection record for the third straight day, reporting nearly 22,600 new cases.

In the state of Rio de Janeiro, emergency services are under their biggest strain since the pandemic began, with ambulances carrying patients of all ages to overcrowded hospitals struggling to care for everyone. Authorities say over 90% of the state’s intensive-care unit beds are taken by COVID-19 patients, and many cities are reporting people dying at home due to lack of available medical treatment.

“We’re already living the third wave. We have three times more calls,” in comparison with previous waves, said Adriano Pereira, director of the mobile emergency care service in Duque de Caxias, an impoverished city outside Rio.

Brazil’s death toll has risen past 340,000, the second-highest total in the world behind the U.S., where nearly 560,000 people have been confirmed killed.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged people to get vaccinated, writing in a tweet: “Vaccination is among the few ways we have to defeat the virus. If you are eligible for the vaccine, get your shot soon.”

The U.S. has now fully vaccinated nearly 20% of its adult population, and New Mexico became the first state to get shots in the arms of 25% of its residents — milestones that are still far off for many hard-hit countries.

In India, home to 1.4 billion people, only 11 million are fully vaccinated. In Brazil, less than 3% of the country’s 210 million people have received both doses, according to Our World in Data, an online research site.

South Korea reported 700 more cases, the highest daily jump since Jan. 5. Health authorities were expected to announce measures to strengthen social distancing following a meeting Friday.

In Thailand, which has reported only 95 deaths during the pandemic, health officials reported the country’s first local cases of the coronavirus variant first detected in Britain. The news comes at a time when only 1% of the population has been vaccinated and as Thais prepare to celebrate the traditional Songkran New Year’s holiday next week, typically a time of widespread travel.

That variant is more contagious, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week that it is now the most common variant in the United States, raising concerns it will drive infections and cause more people to get sick.

Michigan has averaged more than 7,000 new cases a day — a number that makes the state second in the nation behind New York. Michigan also has the highest number of new cases per capita, with 1 of every 203 state residents getting diagnosed with COVID-19 between March 31 and April 7, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

In Detroit, which is about 80% Black, officials said they plan to start visiting homes to talk about the importance of protecting themselves from the virus with vaccinations and how to sign up to receive the shots.

“We’re going to knock on every residential door in the city, making sure every Detroiter knows how to make an appointment,” Victoria Kovari, an executive assistant to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, told The Detroit News.

Only 22% of Detroit residents have received at least one vaccine dose compared to 38% for all of Michigan, according to Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services.

Other Midwestern states have seen troubling signs in recent days, including a school district in Iowa where 127 students and five staff members tested positive for the coronavirus or are presumed positive.

In Massachusetts, where the seven-day rolling average of daily new cases has risen to over 2,100 new cases per day, the Massachusetts Public Health Association called on Republican Gov. Charlie Baker to reinstate public health measures. The group urged Baker to limit indoor dining capacity and other indoor activities, saying the rise in cases and hospitalizations followed Baker’s decision to loosen those restrictions.

———

Associated Press writers Felipe Dana in Rio de Janeiro, Mauricio Savarese in São Paulo and Corey Williams in Detroit contributed to this report.

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Manchins firm stance on filibuster, reconciliation threatens ambitious Biden agenda

Moderate Democrat Joe Manchin reaffirmed that he will not back proposed changes to the Senate filibuster rule or support “shortcutting the legislative process through budget reconciliation,” dealing a possible blow to President Joe Biden’s agenda.

Manchin, who has been trumpeting the need for bipartisanship for months, said in a Washington Post op-ed published Wednesday evening that he will not support any effort to overturn the rule that requires 60 votes to pass legislation in the Senate.

“I have said it before and will say it again to remove any shred of doubt: There is no circumstance in which I will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster,” the West Virginia Senator wrote.

In the evenly divided Senate, overturning the rule would require the support of all Democrats. Without Manchin’s backing, Biden may have to trim some of his most ambitious legislative efforts or abandon them entirely.

Chief among Biden’s priorities are two multi-trillion dollar infrastructure proposals and a bill that would implement major voting reforms.

“There’s a real long laundry list of things that I think many Democrats would like to get though the House and the Senate,” said Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the UVA Center for Politics. “For Democrats on certain things they are stuck.”

Democrats currently hold the House and Senate by razor-thin margins, which Kondik said could easily slip during the 2022 midterm elections.

“The clock is ticking here,” Kondik said. “If I was in the Democratic majority in the House and the Senate I would look at this and say ‘boy if we are going to act on things we need to act now.'”

Eli Zupnick, a former Senate Democratic leadership aide and spokesperson for Fix Our Senate, a progressive group that says its “highest priority is the elimination of the filibuster” said Democrats owe it to voters to act swiftly.

“If the filibuster is allowed to remain as a partisan weapon that Sen. (Mitch) McConnell can use to continue his gridlock and obstruction, then Democrats will be blamed for breaking their promises on voting rights, raising the minimum wage, immigration reform, gun safety and so much more,” Zupnick said.

The most pressing roadblock comes as Biden looks to move forward on the first phase of his $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal. The proposal would provide billions to expand broadband internet, replace lead pipes, repair highways and bridges. Businesses and large corporations would see a bump in their tax rate to fund it.

The tax hike is a non-starter with Republicans.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed to fight the Biden proposal “every step of the way” during a press conference in Kentucky. He’s called the package a “Trojan horse” for Democratic priorities unrelated to infrastructure, and said he does not believe it will get support among his conference, making sixty votes seem all but impossible.

Majority Leader Schumer was dealt an early win on Biden’s infrastructure proposal this week when the Senate parliamentarian ruled that he could utilize budget reconciliation, a procedural tool that allows him to bypass the 60-vote threshold, to move the bill.

Democrats already made use of this tool once this year to pass Biden’s $2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill down strict party lines in March. Schumer has not yet said whether he intends to use it again.

Even if he tries, he would need the support of all 50 Senate Democrats. It’s not clear he has it.

Manchin said, in a radio interview on Monday, that he opposes the Biden tax hike and doesn’t favor use of reconciliation to pass the larger proposal. He also said six or seven other Democrats agree with him, giving them considerable “leverage” in negotiations over the bill.

In his Washington Post op-ed, Manchin said he was “alarmed” by the use of the process to snake around the 60-vote threshold.

“I simply do not believe budget reconciliation should replace regular order in the Senate,” Manchin wrote.

“Republicans, however, have a responsibility to stop saying no, and participate in finding real compromise with Democrats,” he continued.

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., a close Biden ally, set the stage early on Wednesday for a likely compromise.

“It’s more likely that we’ll have a package that’s not paid for” and that is “less robust”, Coons said during a Punchbowl News forum.

Biden has other priorities — including voting rights — that will also be hampered by Manchin’s resolve on the filibuster rule. Since voting reform likely wouldn’t qualify under reconciliation, Democrats will have no choice but to try to cobble together 60 votes.

If they can’t, then Kondik suggests that the $2 trillion COVID bill passed earlier this year could end up being Biden’s signature legislative accomplishment despite unified government control.

“It’s reasonable to wonder is this going to be the big piece of legislation that comes out of Biden’s first two years,” Kondik said. “And maybe it is, maybe that’s the high point.”

ABC News’ Trish Turner contributed to this report.

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St. Vincent warns of volcanic eruption, orders evacuations

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Authorities on the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent said Thursday they believe an active volcano is in danger of erupting and have ordered mandatory evacuations.

The island’s emergency management office switched the alert level to red as officials began to evacuate people who live near La Soufriere volcano to soon place them aboard cruise ships, send them to nearby islands or take them to shelters elsewhere in St. Vincent that are outside the danger zone.

Roughly 16,000 people live in the red zone and will need to be evacuated, Erouscilla Joseph, director of the University of the West Indies’ Seismic Research Center, told The Associated Press.

The pandemic could hamper evacuation efforts.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said in a press conference that people have to be vaccinated if they go aboard a cruise ship or are granted temporary refuge in another island. He said two Royal Caribbean cruise ships are expected to arrive by Friday and a third one in the coming days, as well as two Carnival cruise ships by Friday. Islands that have said they would accept evacuees include St. Lucia, Grenada, Barbados and Antigua.

“Not everything is going to go perfect, but if we all cooperate … we will come through this stronger than ever,” Gonsalves said.

He noted that he was talking to Caribbean governments to accept people’s ID cards if they don’t have a passport.

“This is an emergency situation, and everybody understands that,” he said.

Gonsalves added that he highly recommends those who opt to go to a shelter in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, an island chain of more than 100,000 people, be vaccinated.

“They know who doesn’t have transportation because all of this has been canvassed before,” she said, adding that those who board the cruise ship would not be taken elsewhere but would remain there for an unspecified period of time.

By late Thursday evening, shelters were filling up as a string of car lights making their way to safer ground twinkled through the darkened mountains.

John Renton, a school principal who was in charge of one shelter, said in a phone interview that they had plenty of masks and other personal protective equipment but needed more cots. While talking, he was interrupted by a phone call from a government official asking about the state of things. “We’re over capacity,” he responded, noting that the shelter could hold 75 people and was already filled up.

Government officials tweeted that the dome of the volcano located on the island’s northern region could be seen glowing by nightfall. The alert issued Wednesday follows days of seismic activity around La Soufriere.

Gonsalves urged people to remain calm and orderly.

“I don’t want you panicked,” he said. “That is the worst thing to do.”

Scientists alerted the government about a possible eruption after noting a type of seismic activity at 3 a.m. on Thursday that indicated “magma was on the move close to the surface,” Joseph said.

“Things are escalating pretty quickly,” she said of the volcanic activity, adding that it was impossible to provide an exact forecast of what might happen in the next hours or days.

A team from the seismic center arrived in St. Vincent in late December after the volcano had an effusive eruption. They have been analyzing the formation of a new volcanic dome, changes to its crater lake, seismic activity and gas emissions, among other things.

The volcano last erupted in 1979, and a previous eruption in 1902 killed some 1,600 people.

The eastern Caribbean is home to other active volcanoes. Seventeen of the region’s 19 live volcanoes are located on 11 islands, with the remaining two underwater near the island of Grenada, including one called Kick ’Em Jenny that has been active in recent years.

The region’s most active volcano in recent years has been Soufriere Hills in Montserrat, which has erupted continuously since 1995, destroying the capital of Plymouth and killing at least 19 people in 1997.