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Saturday, January 15, 2022 1:00 am

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Chicago students conduct walkout

Associated Press

CHICAGO – Hundreds of Chicago students staged a walkout Friday, saying there weren't enough precautions in place to protect them from COVID-19 despite an agreement between the teachers union and school district to return to classrooms.

The walkout at schools across the city culminated outside district offices downtown, where the students waved signs, chanted and briefly blocked traffic. “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Lori Lightfoot's got to go,” they said, a reference to the Chicago mayor.

In-person classes resumed Wednesday after an agreement on a safety plan that includes metrics to shut down individual schools during outbreaks and expanded testing. While masks are required inside schools, the protesters said some students don't have masks or wear them inconsistently. They also want better access to COVID-19 testing and technology for remote learning.

Ohio justices reject GOP-drawn map

Ohio's Republican-drawn congressional map was rejected by the state's high court Friday, giving hope to national Democrats who had argued it unfairly delivered several potentially competitive seats in this year's critical midterm elections to Republicans.

In the 4-3 decision, the Ohio Supreme Court returned the map to the Ohio General Assembly, where Republicans hold supermajorities in both chambers, and then to the powerful Ohio Redistricting Commission. The two bodies have a combined 60 days to draw new lines that comply with a 2018 constitutional amendment against gerrymandering.

The commission was already in the process of reconstituting so it can redraw GOP-drawn legislative maps the court also rejected this week as gerrymandered. That decision gave the panel 10 days to comply.

Pennsylvania vote check halted

An inspection of voting machines in a heavily Republican county in Pennsylvania as part of a GOP investigation into the 2020 presidential election was moments away from starting Friday until the state Supreme Court put it on hold.

The high court decision came hours after a state judge rejected attempts by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's administration to block the inspection without agreements over procedure in place.

The justices overruled the lower court by granting an emergency request by the governor's lawyers to stop it for now. The court said the request was granted on a temporary basis until the full court can consider it.

NY Republican congressman to retire

Rep. John Katko, a respected Republican moderate whose congressional career seemed on the ascent, announced his retirement Friday, the third of the 10 House GOP lawmakers who voted to impeach President Donald Trump last January to say they won't seek reelection.

The upstate New Yorker, 59, was in line to become chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee if, as seems likely, Republicans win control of the chamber in November's elections.

Serving his fourth House term, Katko released a statement saying it was time to “enjoy my family and life in a fuller and more present way.”

Netflix to raise prices again in US

Netflix is raising prices for its video streaming customers in the U.S. and Canada, less than a year and a half since its last price increase, as competition from other streaming services increases.

The Los Gatos, California, company said Friday that prices are going up by $1 to $2, depending on the plan. The “standard” plan that most people take is increasing by $1.50, to $15.50. The Canadian version is going up by the same amount in local currency, to $16.50 Canadian dollars.

Price increases are becoming more of a regular feature at Netflix, which is facing saturation in the U.S. market. Of Netflix's 213.5 million subscribers, some 74 million are in the U.S. and Canada.

South, Northeast gird for snow, ice

Weather forecasters' predictions of debilitating snow and ice as far south as Georgia sent parts of the region into a tizzy Friday with shoppers scouring store shelves for storm supplies and road crews trying to prevent a repeat of past wintertime debacles.

The National Weather Service said from 2 to 5 inches of snow could fall as far south as northeast Georgia from this evening though Sunday, and power outages and travel problems will be made worse by an additional coating of ice and winds gusting to 35 mph. The storm is expected to then head into the Northeast while dropping snow, sleet and rain around the densely populated Eastern Seaboard.

US rape suspect arrested in Scotland

A Rhode Island man who is believed to have fled the U.S. and faked his own death to evade prosecution for rape and financial fraud has been arrested in Scotland after being hospitalized with COVID-19, authorities said.

Nicholas Alahverdian, 34, who has been a vocal critic of Rhode Island child welfare after saying he was sexually abused in the state's foster care system, now faces extradition to the U.S. to face a rape charge in Utah.

Alahverdian, who had been living overseas under the assumed name of Arthur Knight and has gone by other aliases, was arrested Dec. 13 by Scottish authorities.


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