Nation and world news briefs

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NY mayor pushes back most in-person school re-openings for more than a week

NEW YORK – New York Mayor Bill de Blasio pushed back in-person school re-openings Thursday over concerns raised by union leaders.

In-person learning will now start on Sept. 29 for kids in grades kindergarten through eight. Middle schools and high schools will now re-open in-person learning on Oct. 1.

Pre-K and 3-K students will still re-open on Sept. 21, the original in-person start date.

“There are some blanks that we need to fill in,” teachers union leader Michael Mulgrew said Thursday at a press conference with de Blasio. “We must make sure we get this right.”

De Blasio said teacher staffing levels are the biggest concern and announced Thursday that the city will bring in another 2,500 teachers, in addition to the 2,000 he previously announced, bringing the total to 4,500 additional teachers.

—New York Daily News


McCarthy focused on election, not Freedom Caucus push to remove Pelosi

WASHINGTON — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Thursday dodged a question on whether he will bring a motion to vacate to remove Speaker Nancy Pelosi from her post, an effort the Freedom Caucus was urging him to pursue.

“I do not want Nancy Pelosi to be speaker, but I do not want Nadler to be chair. I do not want Schiff to be chair and I do not want Maxine Waters,” McCarthy told reporters at his weekly news conference, referring to Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff, D-Calif., and Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif. “Forty-some days from now, we will remove them.”

On Wednesday, Politico reported that the House’s ultraconservative wing was urging McCarthy to offer a motion to vacate the chair, which would mandate a floor vote to decide whether Pelosi could keep her position. With Democrats in the majority, it is unlikely such a move would result in enough votes to remove her from the speakership.

McCarthy is undecided on whether he will join the effort, but he did agree to have a Republican Conference meeting on Tuesday about the matter, Politico reported. He also told Fox News after the story broke that it wasn’t the best move right now.

McCarthy’s comments at his weekly news conference indicate he is focused on the election in November and doesn’t want to grapple with such questions until the voters decide which party will carry the majority.

—CQ-Roll Call


Drug seizures along northern border up 1,000%, partly because of Canada’s legalization of recreational pot: CBP

Drug seizures along the Canadian border in upstate New York have increased by more than 1,000% this year, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The agency’s Buffalo Field Office, which covers 16 ports of entry throughout the state, recovered more than 40,000 pounds of narcotics over 732 separate seizures from Oct. 1, 2019, to Aug. 31, 2020, federal officials said in a recent news release.

By comparison, just about 3,400 pounds of narcotics were seized during the same period a year earlier.

Authorities believe that Canada’s legalization of recreational marijuana, which came into effect in late 2018, is partly to blame for the massive jump in drug seizures.

“The marijuana seizures alone are valued at just over $120M,” Buffalo Field Office Director Rose Brophy said in a statement.

Brophy also said that criminal organizations have not stopped their activities “just because the border has restricted travel.”

Traffic along the U.S.-Canada border has been drastically limited since March, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the two countries to restrict travel to curb the spread of the virus.

—New York Daily News


Peru’s Vizcarra to face impeachment moves after court rejects appeal

BOGOTA, Colombia — Peru’s President Martin Vizcarra is due on Friday to face an impeachment hearing in parliament after the Constitutional Court on Thursday rejected his request to suspend it.

The court did, however, admit a request from the president to investigate whether Congress had exceeded its powers in launching the impeachment proceedings.

Parliament last week voted to start impeachment proceedings against the 57-year-old on the grounds of “moral incompetence,” following allegations that he tried to obstruct an investigation into government contracts given to a singer.

The move threw the Andean country into political turmoil at a time when it grapples with the world’s fifth-largest coronavirus outbreak and its worst economic recession in decades.

However, it looked unlikely a sufficient number of lawmakers would vote in favor of impeaching the president, though nearly all parties want him to give explanations to Congress, daily El Comercio reported.

Vizcarra can attend the session personally or send his lawyer.

Parliament earlier heard audio recordings in which Vizcarra allegedly told his aides to downplay his meetings with the singer Richard Cisneros, known as Richard Swing, whose contracts for motivational talks are under investigation.

Cisneros, who is seen as being close to Vizcarra’s predecessor Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, insists the contracts — worth $50,000 — were legal.

Kuczynski resigned in 2018 following corruption allegations, leading to his deputy, Vizcarra, assuming the presidency. Vizcarra has announced he will not be a candidate in elections scheduled for April.

The president denies wrongdoing and dismissed the impeachment proceedings as a plot to destabilize the government.