Omicron explosion spurs nationwide breakdown of services

Ambulances in Kansas speed toward hospitals then suddenly change direction because hospitals are full. Employee shortages in New York City cause delays in trash and subway services and diminish the ranks of firefighters and emergency workers. Airport officials shut down security checkpoints at the biggest terminal in Phoenix and schools across the nation struggle to find teachers for their classrooms. The current explosion of omicron-fueled coronavirus infections in the U.S. is causing a breakdown in basic functions and services — the latest illustration of how COVID-19 keeps upending life more than two years into the pandemic. “This really does, I think, remind everyone of when COVID-19 first appeared and there were such major disruptions across every part of our normal life,” said Tom Cotter, director of emergency response and preparedness at the global health nonprofit Project HOPE. “And the unfortunate reality is, there’s no way of predicting what will happen next until we get our vaccination numbers — globally — up.” First responders, hospitals, schools and government agencies have employed an all-hands-on-deck approach to keep the public safe, but they are worried how much longer they can keep it up.

Space telescope's 'golden eye' opens, last major hurdle

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.— NASA’s new space telescope opened its huge, gold-plated, flower-shaped mirror Saturday, the final step in the observatory's dramatic unfurling. The last portion of the 21-foot (6.5-meter) mirror swung into place at flight controllers’ command, completing the unfolding of the James Webb Space Telescope. “I’m emotional about it. What an amazing milestone. We see that beautiful pattern out there in the sky now,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, chief of NASA’s science missions. More powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope, the $10 billion Webb will scan the cosmos for light streaming from the first stars and galaxies formed 13.7 billion years ago. To accomplish this, NASA had to outfit Webb with the largest and most sensitive mirror ever launched — its “golden eye,” as scientists call it.

Intel reports repeatedly failed to forecast Capitol riot

Intelligence reports compiled by the U.S. Capitol Police in the days before last year's insurrection envisioned only an improbable or remote risk of violence, even as other assessments warned that crowds of potentially thousands of pro-Trump demonstrators could converge in Washington and create a dangerous situation. The documents, obtained by The Associated Press, underscore the uneven and muddled intelligence that circulated to Capitol Police officers ahead of the Jan. 6 riot, when thousands of Donald Trump loyalists swarmed the Capitol complex and clashed violently with law enforcement officers in their effort to disrupt the certification of the results of the 2020 presidential election. The intelligence reports in particular show how the police agency for days grievously underestimated the prospect of chaotic violence and disruptions.

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