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Washington State Patrol trooper dies in avalanche

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Washington State Patrol trooper dies in avalanche

A veteran trooper with the Washington State Patrol died in an avalanche on Monday, authorities said.

Steve Houle, a 28 year veteran of the force, was snowmobiling with another man when the avalanche struck in the French Cabin Creek area, the local sheriff’s office told KOMO-TV.

The other rider was able to hike out to safety, but Houle was found dead later in the day, the report said.

“Steve was a great person and an excellent employee, loved and respected by us all,” WSP Chief John Batiste said in a statement.

“We hold his memory and his family close to our hearts in this painfully sad time,” the chief said.

Deadly avalanches have been common this season in the US. Just last week, 15 people across the country were killed by the natural disasters — the most in a seven-day span since 1910, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

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Brazilian COVID-19 variant found in Oregon

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Brazilian COVID-19 variant found in Oregon

SALEM, Ore. — A coronavirus variant that was first detected in Brazil has emerged in Oregon, the first known case of the new variant on the contiguous U.S. West Coast, medical authorities said Tuesday.

The sample was sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the end of January by medical officials in Douglas County, Oregon. They said they received the results back on Monday night, which showed the P.1 variant.

“The P.1 variant … appears to be related to business travel outside the United States to and from Brazil,” the Douglas County COVID-19 Response Team said in a statement Tuesday.

The variant, which was first found in Manaus, Brazil, appears to be more contagious than other COVID-19 strains. It can potentially be contracted by someone who was already infected or who has been vaccinated.

There have been 10 additional cases of the P.1 variant reported in the U.S., with five in Florida, two in Minnesota and one each in Oklahoma, Alaska and Maryland, the CDC says.

Health officials in Douglas County, located in western Oregon, said they are awaiting results of other samples that were sent to the CDC for genome sequence DNA testing for emerging COVID-19 variants.

The Oregon Health Authority said the unidentified person who contracted the Brazilian variant has been working closely with the local health department and has been self-isolating.

Health officials on Tuesday also reported 13 new coronavirus-related deaths in the state, raising the known death toll to 2,225. There were 269 new confirmed and presumptive cases in the state, for a total of 156,037, authorities said.

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Ohio grandmother killed by stray bullet before son’s funeral

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Ohio grandmother killed by stray bullet before son's funeral

An Ohio grandmother was struck by a stray bullet and killed while planning her son’s funeral over the weekend, a report said.

Ruth Lewis, 89, gathered with relatives at a family member’s home in Warren when she was shot in the back around 7:30 p.m. Sunday, according to WKBN-TV.

She was pronounced dead a short time later. No other injuries were reported.

“This was a senseless death caused by a random bullet,” said Warren Mayor Doug Franklin.

“Obviously, she wasn’t the target so it’s so unfortunate, but that just goes to speak to the dangers of just having so many guns in irresponsible hands.”

Witnesses reported hearing at least five to 10 gunshots, including one who saw two cars driving away erratically from the home.

With Post Wires

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$140 million ‘Pelosi subway’ axed from Senate COVID bill

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$140 million 'Pelosi subway' axed from Senate COVID bill

Guess she’ll have to take the bus.

Funding for a rail project near House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s California district that Republicans denounced as wasteful was removed Tuesday from President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill.

The Senate parliamentarian ruled the $140 million appropriation wasn’t allowed under the so-called Byrd rule that polices unrelated items in budget reconciliation bills.

Republicans singled out the rail project as an example of unrelated “pork” in the bill, which is being rammed through Congress without Republican support using special rules that allow a simple majority vote in the Senate.

On Tuesday, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) ridiculed the project as Pelosi’s “tunnel of love” ahead of an anticipated vote on the package later this week.

Representatives for Pelosi, who represents San Francisco, had defended the project, saying that ridership for mass-transit plummeted during the pandemic, making it reasonable to increase government spending.

“The Senate Parliamentarian has now ruled that the BART extension from San Jose to Santa Clara does not meet the requirements of the Byrd rule because it is part of a pilot project. Therefore, it will be removed from the reconciliation package,” Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said.

A separate $1.5 million allocation for the Seaway International Bridge between Massena, New York, and Canada also will be removed, he said.

The Senate parliamentarian previously blocked Democrats from including a federal minimum wage hike to $15 per hour in the bill.

Hammill defended the original inclusion of the rail funds.

“COVID-19 had an immediate and overwhelming effect on all of our transportation systems and the millions of transportation and construction jobs associated with them,” he said.

“As part of the $30 billion in public transit support, the House included $1.425 billion to help dozens of major transit rail capital projects, including the BART extension from San Jose to Santa Clara.”

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