Corey Comperatore, former fire chief killed at Pennsylvania Trump rally, used his body to shield family from gunfire

Corey-Comperatore-Helmets-in-locker

Important Takeaways:

  • Corey Comperatore’s quick decision to use his body as a shield against the bullets flying toward his wife and daughter rang true to the close friends and neighbors who loved and respected the proud 50-year-old Trump supporter, noting that the Butler County resident was a “man of conviction.”
  • At least two other people were injured: David Dutch, 57, of New Kensington, Pennsylvania, and James Copenhaver, 74, of Moon Township, Pennsylvania, according to the Pennsylvania State Police. Both were listed in stable condition as of Sunday.
  • Randy Reamer, president of the Buffalo Township volunteer fire company, called Comperatore “a stand-up guy” and “a true brother of the fire service.” He said Comperatore served as chief of the company for about three years but was also a life member, meaning he had served for more than 20 years.
  • “He definitely stood up for what he believed in, never backed down to anyone. … He was a really good guy.”
  • “As soon as I heard what happened and then learned that it was to Corey, I went upstairs as soon as I got home and I registered to vote,” Morehouse said. “This is the first time I’ve ever voted and I think it will be in his memory.”
  • A GoFundMe launched to support Comperatore’s family had already surpassed more than $696,000 in donations as of Sunday.

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Rare flash flood emergency, NWS’s highest flood alert category, issued for parts of Pittsburgh

Pennsylvania-Flood

Important Takeaways:

  • Heavy, relentless rains flooded Pittsburgh-area streets and prompted water rescues Thursday night, as a severe storm system threatened parts of the eastern U.S. into Friday.
  • The heavy rains were triggered by the same storm system that unleashed tornadoes and heavy rains across much of the South and Southeast this week, with flood emergencies declared in three other locations.
  • The National Weather Service received over 200 reports of severe weather from Tuesday night to Thursday evening — with reports of at least 14 tornadoes striking Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
  • Flood watches were in effect in northern New Hampshire and central Maine due to the threat of flash and river flooding.

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Republicans play hardball; look to remove Biden from ballots in Georgia, Arizona, and Pennsylvania

Biden-old

Important Takeaways:

  • If Biden is removed from the ballots, the president will have difficulty winning the Democrat primary and presidential election. Georgia, Arizona, and Pennsylvania are vital swing states.
  • The three state representatives who are drafting the three bills are:
    • Pennsylvania Rep. Aaron Bernstine (R)
    • Georgia Rep. Charlice Byrd (R)
    • Arizona Rep. Cory Mcgarr (R)
  • The state representatives’ aim is to fight back against the Democrats’ so-called “lawfare” used to attack former President Donald Trump. The Colorado Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in a 4-3 opinion that the United States Constitution’s “Insurrection Clause” blocks Trump from appearing on the state’s presidential ballot.
  • “Colorado radicals just changed the game and we are not going to sit quietly while they destroy our Republic. To be clear, our objective is to showcase the absurdity of Colorado’s decision and allow ALL candidates to be on the ballot in all states,” they wrote. “To do that, we must fight back as Republicans against the communists currently running our great country.”

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Oz concedes to Fetterman in PA

Romans 13:1 says, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Mehmet Oz calls John Fetterman to officially concede Pennsylvania Senate race
  • Democrat Fetterman’s win has flipped a key Senate seat away from Republicans
  • Oz, endorsed by former President Donald Trump, secured 47.3% of the vote, losing to Fetterman’s 50.3%.
  • The GOP was widely expected to take control of the House of Representatives, but control over the chamber is now a toss-up. Senate control also remains a toss-up.
  • “This morning I called John Fetterman and congratulated him. I wish him and his family all the best, both personally and as our next United States Senator,” Oz wrote
  • “We are facing big problems as a country and we need everyone to put down their partisan swords and focus on getting the job done. With bold leadership that brings people together, we can create real change. As a Doctor, I always do my best to help others heal. That’s why I ran for Senate. I hope we begin the healing process as a nation soon,” he added.

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Pennsylvania governor issues mask mandate for schools, child care facilities

By Brendan O’Brien

(Reuters) -Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf on Tuesday issued a mask mandate for all K-12 school and child care facilities to protect against the spread of COVID-19, three weeks after the Democrat said he would leave the decision to individual districts.

The order, which goes into effect Sept. 7, comes amid a surge in COVID-19 cases due to the highly-contagious Delta variant of the virus.

Since July, Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 case load has increased from less than 300 a day to more than 3,000 a day, according to the state’s health department.

“With case counts increasing, the situation has reached the point that we need to take this action to protect our children, teachers and staff. The science is clear,” the state’s acting Health Secretary Alison Beam said in a statement.

The decision comes as millions of public education students head back to schools across the United States. School districts, state education agencies and governors across the nation are grappling with masking and vaccination requirements.

In South Carolina, for example, the state’s supreme court heard arguments on Tuesday in two cases involving mask mandates in city of Columbia schools.

The order in Pennsylvania requires students, teachers and staff to wear masks in all public and private K-12 schools. The order also applies to child care providers and early learning programs. The order does not apply to school sports or outdoor activities.

In early August, Wolf said he intended to leave the decision to require masks in schools up to individual districts.

“Unfortunately, an aggressive nationwide campaign is spreading misinformation about mask-wearing and pressuring and intimidating school districts to reject mask policies that will keep kids safe and in school,” he said.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; Editing by Chris Reese and Bill Berkrot)

Biogen Alzheimer’s drug hits roadblocks with some hospitals, insurers

By Deena Beasley

(Reuters) -The rollout of Biogen Inc’s Alzheimer’s drug is hitting new roadblocks as some large hospitals decide not to use it and many health insurers await coverage terms from Medicare, the U.S. health plan for people aged 65 and older, before setting their own policies.

Cleveland Clinic, one of the country’s best-known health systems, and New York’s Mount Sinai Health System on Thursday confirmed they had decided not to carry the new drug, called Aduhelm.

“The tide turned on Friday when the inspector general investigation was announced, and the potential allegation of irregularity in the FDA/Biogen relationship,” Dr. Sam Gandy, director of the Mount Sinai Center for Cognitive Health, told Reuters.

The FDA called last week for an independent federal probe into its representatives’ interactions with Biogen.

Biogen shares fell nearly 8% on Thursday, or $25.21, to $324.85. Guggenheim analyst Yatin Suneja attributed the stock slump to the decision by the two hospital systems not to use the drug.

In mid-June, the Washington, D.C., Neurology Center said it would not recommend the treatment, which is given as a monthly infusion, for any of its patients due to concerns about efficacy, safety and cost.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the drug, also known as aducanumab, in early June despite mixed clinical trial results. The agency said it was convinced that evidence of Aduhelm’s ability to clear amyloid brain plaques would benefit Alzheimer’s patients.

Biogen, which priced Aduhelm at $56,000 a year, said in a statement on Thursday that clinical data supported the drug’s approval and patients who are denied access should contact the company for help.

INSURERS ON HOLD

Insurers representing millions of American enrolled in private Medicare plans said the drug has yet to meet their bar for coverage based on the data.

UnitedHealth Group, the largest private insurer offering Medicare Advantage coverage to seniors, on Thursday said it was still reviewing the drug and awaiting input from Medicare.

“This has some way to go before we get to real clarity. So I wouldn’t guide you to expect a very rapid decision-making on this piece,” CEO Andrew Witty said.

Humana, the second largest provider of Medicare Advantage plans, also said it has not finalized coverage for Aduhelm as it awaits guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Several Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance plans, including those in Michigan, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, have said there is insufficient evidence of Aduhelm’s benefit for patients and they will not provide coverage for the drug.

Biogen said in a statement that the several Blues plans’ “characterization of Aduhelm as experimental and investigational is inaccurate and misleading.”

CMS on Monday began a national review process it said would take nine months to complete. Until then, the agency said coverage determinations for aducanumab are being made at the local level by 12 regional contractors.

SVB Leerink this week said a survey of 57 U.S. neurologists who treat high volumes of Alzheimer’s patients found that 44% of them would use Aduhelm in patients with early Alzheimer’s disease who have evidence of amyloid plaques.

The Wall Street firm estimates sales of the drug at $65 million this year, $1.1 billion next year and $5 billion by 2025.

The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review, an influential pricing group, was holding a meeting on Thursday of doctors, patients and other stakeholders to discuss how Aduhelm’s cost stacks up against potential benefits to patients.

(Reporting by Deena Beasley; Additional reporting by Manas Mishra in Bangalaru and Julie Steenhuysen in Chicago; Editing by Howard Goller)

Five U.S. states had coronavirus infections even before first reported cases

By Mrinalika Roy

(Reuters) -At least seven people in five U.S. states were infected with the novel coronavirus weeks before those states reported their first cases, a large new government study showed, pointing to the presence of the virus in the country as early as December 2019.

Participants who reported antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 were likely exposed to the virus at least several weeks before their sample was taken, as the antibodies do not appear until about two weeks after a person has been infected, the researchers said.

The positive samples came from Illinois, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and were part of a study of more than 24,000 blood samples taken for a National Institutes of Health research program between Jan. 2 and March 18, 2020.

Of the seven samples, three were from Illinois, where the first confirmed coronavirus case was reported on Jan. 24, while the remaining four states had one case each. Samples from participants in Illinois were collected on Jan. 7 and Massachusetts on Jan. 8.

The data suggests that the coronavirus was circulating in U.S. states far from the initial hotspots and areas that were considered the virus’ points of entry into the country, the study noted.

The data also backs a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study that suggested the virus may have been circulating in the United States well before the first COVID-19 case was diagnosed on Jan. 19, 2020.

“This study allows us to uncover more information about the beginning of the U.S. epidemic,” said Josh Denny, one of the authors of the study, which was published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

The United States has so far reported 33.6 million cases, according to a Reuters tally.

The infections were confirmed using two antibody tests, which were granted emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

(Reporting by Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

Trump and 17 states back Texas bid at Supreme Court

By Jan Wolfe and Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Wednesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to let him join a lawsuit by Texas seeking to throw out the voting results in four states, litigation that also drew support from 17 other states.

In a separate brief, lawyers for 17 states led by Missouri’s Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt also urged the nine justices to hear the Texas lawsuit.

Trump on Wednesday vowed to intervene in the lawsuit though he did not provide details on the nature of the intervention including whether it would be by presidential campaign or the U.S. Justice Department.

Writing on Twitter, Trump said, “We will be INTERVENING in the Texas (plus many other states) case. This is the big one. Our Country needs a victory!”

The lawsuit, announced on Tuesday by the attorney general of Texas, Ken Paxton, targeted four states.

In addition to Missouri, the states joining Texas were: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia.

The lawsuit was filed directly with the Supreme Court rather than with a lower court, as is permitted for certain litigation between states.

The Texas suit argued that changes made by the four states to voting procedures amid the coronavirus pandemic to expand mail-in voting were unlawful. Texas asked the Supreme Court to immediately block the four states from using the voting results to appoint presidential electors to the Electoral College.

Texas also asked the Supreme Court to delay the Dec. 14 date for Electoral College votes to be formally cast, a date set by law in 1887.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Jan Wolfe; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Will Dunham)

As Giuliani argues for Trump, Pennsylvania asks judge to toss election challenge

By Jan Wolfe and Brad Heath

(Reuters) – Lawyers for Pennsylvania asked a judge on Tuesday to dismiss Donald Trump’s bid to block President-elect Joe Biden from being certified as the victor in the state as the Republican president, with personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani arguing for him, pursued a long-shot legal challenge to his U.S. election loss.

Giuliani, the former New York mayor, took a key role in spearheading Trump’s case before U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. A loss in the case would likely doom Trump’s already-remote prospects of altering the election’s outcome.

There was “widespread, nationwide voter fraud” in the election, Giuliani told Brann, but provided little evidence to back up that claim.

Daniel Donovan, a lawyer for Pennsylvania’s top election official, said Trump’s campaign did not allege irregularities that would change the outcome in the state.

The Trump campaign on Sunday narrowed the Pennsylvania case to focus on a claim that voters in the state were improperly allowed to fix ballots that had been rejected because of technical errors such as missing a “secrecy envelope.”

Pennsylvania officials have said a small number of ballots were fixed. Trump’s campaign, however, is asking Brann to halt certification of Biden’s victory in the state. Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar is due to certify the election results next Monday, meaning Brann is expected to rule quickly.

Biden, due to take office on Jan. 20, is projected to have won the state by more than 70,000 votes, giving him 49.9% of the state’s votes to 48.8% for Trump.

Hours before the hearing, Brann allowed Giuliani to formally appear in the case. Trump wrote on Twitter on Saturday that Giuliani was spearheading a new team to pursue the campaign’s legal fight.

Trump, the first U.S. president to lose a re-election bid since 1992, has called the election “rigged,” has made unsubstantiated claims of widespread voting fraud and has falsely claimed victory. State election officials around the country have said they have found no such fraud.

Biden clinched the election by winning Pennsylvania to put him over the 270 state-by-state electoral votes needed. Biden, a Democrat, won 306 Electoral College votes overall to the Republican Trumps 232, Edison Research said on Friday.

Giuliani said there was a history of voter fraud in large U.S. cities, adding, without offering evidence, that the expansion of mail-in voting in 2020 allowed officials to take advantage of a public health crisis, the coronavirus pandemic.

Donovan said the Trump campaign’s alleged injuries are “speculative” and “cannot give them standing in federal court.”

On Monday, three lawyers representing the Trump campaign asked to withdraw from the case, saying the campaign consented to the move but offering little explanation. Brann allowed two of the three to drop out.

The campaign and Trump supporters have filed lawsuits in multiple states challenging the Nov. 3 election result but have yet to overturn any votes. Any remote hope of reversing the election’s outcome hangs on Pennsylvania.

Legal experts have said the lawsuits stand little chance of changing the outcome. A senior Biden legal adviser has dismissed the litigation as “theatrics, not really lawsuits.”

The Trump campaign has had difficulty retaining legal counsel to take on its post-election challenges. Last week, lawyers at the firm of Porter Wright Morris & Arthur withdrew from representing the campaign in the Pennsylvania suit.

Another firm, Snell & Wilmer, withdrew on Tuesday from a lawsuit alleging that Arizona’s Maricopa County incorrectly rejected some votes cast on Election Day.

In the Pennsylvania lawsuit, the Trump campaign alleges Democratic-leaning counties unlawfully identified mail-in ballots before Election Day that had defects so that voters could fix, or “cure,” them.

Pennsylvania officials sought to have the lawsuit thrown out, saying all of the state’s counties were permitted to inform residents if their mail-in ballots were deficient, even if it was not mandatory for them to do so.

(Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Additional reporting by Tom Hals and Nate Raymond; Editing by Will Dunham, Lincoln Feast, Howard Goller and Noeleen Walder)

Trump lawyers withdraw on eve of key hearing in Pennsylvania election case

By Jan Wolfe and David Thomas

(Reuters) – Three more lawyers representing President Donald Trump’s campaign have asked to withdraw from his lawsuit challenging the U.S. election results in Pennsylvania, shaking up his legal team on the eve of a major court hearing.

The lawyers – Linda Kerns, John Scott and Douglas Bryan Hughes – made the request in a court filing on Monday, adding that the campaign consented to their withdrawal.

In a brief order on Monday night, the judge hearing the case allowed Scott and Hughes to withdraw but not Kerns.

Harrisburg-based lawyer Marc Scaringi has joined the case and will be Trump’s lead counsel. Scaringi and the three attorneys who sought to withdraw did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Scaringi on Monday asked the judge to postpone a hearing scheduled for Tuesday, saying he and a law partner “need additional time to adequately prepare.” The judge quickly denied the request.

Jenna Ellis, a legal adviser with the Trump campaign, said the change was routine.

“The president announced Saturday that he has asked Mayor Rudy Giuliani to lead the national legal team, along with local counsel. Our substitution of local counsel is consistent with routine managing of complex litigation,” Ellis said in a statement.

The filing did not give a reason for the change, which came days after a prominent regional law firm, Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, also withdrew from the case.

In a court filing on Thursday, lawyers at Porter Wright said it had agreed that its clients – the campaign and two registered voters – “will be best served if Porter Wright withdraws.”

Kerns said in a recent court filing that she has faced a torrent of harassing emails and phone messages due to her work for the Trump campaign.

A federal judge in Williamsport will hear arguments on Tuesday in the Trump campaign’s lawsuit, filed on Nov. 9, which seeks to halt the state’s top election official from certifying Joe Biden, a Democrat, as the winner.

The Trump campaign is filing lawsuits that are “borderline frivolous” and will not change the election’s outcome even if successful, said Bruce Green, a professor of legal ethics at Fordham Law School.

“It’s doomed to fail anyway. So, does it really make a difference if another lawyer comes in? I think in most people’s view, these cases are not being filed with any expectation that they’ll prevail,” Green said.

(Reporting by Jan Wolfe and David Thomas; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Christopher Cushing)