Laurel Wamsley

Can gambling profits support the newspaper business? The company that owns the Toronto Star is betting on it.

Torstar Corporation announced Tuesday that it would launch an online casino brand later this year, pending approval by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.

Updated at 4:28 p.m. ET

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that he is lifting the state's mask mandate and increasing capacity of all businesses and facilities in the state to 100%. Abbott, a Republican, said the mandates are no longer needed due to advancements of vaccines and therapeutics to protect against COVID-19.

Amid criticism of the FBI's handling of its findings of planned violence on Jan. 6, FBI Director Christopher Wray defended his agency's methods of sharing intelligence with law enforcement on the evening before the insurrection.

A situational intelligence report from the FBI's Norfolk office conveyed specific threats made online against members of Congress, maps of the tunnel system under the Capitol complex and places to meet before traveling together to Washington. But this intelligence was raw, consisting of online information that had not yet been analyzed or corroborated.

New York's attorney general is proceeding with an investigation into the allegations of sexual harassment made against Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The governor's office authorized the probe, clearing the way for the hiring of an independent law firm to conduct the inquiry.

Catalan police raided the FC Barcelona stadium on Monday, and there are reports that the club's former president and three others have been arrested.

The police said several searches and seizures were carried out by its financial crimes unit, but did not give additional details.

A former adviser to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has shared details of alleged sexual harassment by the governor, including an unwanted kiss and touching. A spokeswoman for Cuomo denied the allegations.

In a post on Medium published Wednesday, Lindsey Boylan describes troubling behavior from the time she first met the governor in January 2016. Boylan served as an economic advisor in the Cuomo administration from 2015 to 2018.

The average U.S. life expectancy dropped by a year in the first half of 2020, according to a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics, a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Life expectancy at birth for the total U.S. population was 77.8 years – a decline of 1 year from 78.8 in 2019. For males, the life expectancy at birth was 75.1 – a decline of 1.2 years from 2019. For females, life expectancy declined to 80.5 years, a 0.9 year decrease from 2019.

The White House plans to increase testing capacity in the U.S. through multiple channels, officials said in a media briefing on Wednesday.

The administration says it will spend $650 million to expand testing for K-8 schools and settings where people congregate such as homeless shelters, via new "hubs" created by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense. Regional coordinating centers will work to increase testing capacity, partnering with labs and universities to collect specimens, perform tests and report results to public health agencies.

Updated at 5:09 p.m. ET

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been in office three weeks. He arrives at a challenging time: the U.S. must figure out how to deal with China, Russia and Iran, the coronavirus pandemic rages on, and the State Department must rise from the morale slump it suffered during the Trump administration.

In an interview Tuesday with NPR's Mary Louise Kelly, Blinken said that "there is no doubt" that the ability of American diplomats to promote democracy and human rights has been "tarnished by recent events."

Fifty years ago Monday, the U.K. and Ireland put an end to a system of currency that had been used for hundreds of years, and made a switch to decimalization — the system where currency is based on multiples of 10 and 100.

Before Feb. 15, 1971, Britain's currency was 12 pennies to the shilling and 20 shillings to the pound — or 240 pence to a pound.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced that they are expecting their second child.

"We can confirm that Archie is going to be a big brother. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are overjoyed to be expecting their second child," a spokesperson for the couple told Reuters on Sunday.

The couple did not say when the baby is due, or whether they know its gender.

Five people who prosecutors say are linked to the Proud Boys extremist group were arrested on Thursday and now face charges in connection with the riot at the U.S. Capitol last month.

A Wisconsin judge has refused to issue a new arrest warrant for Kyle Rittenhouse, the 18-year-old charged with killing two people in Kenosha, Wis., during protests last summer.

Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder also refused to increase Rittenhouse's bail.

Updated at 1:32 p.m. ET

China's broadcasting regulator has banned the BBC World Service from airing there, according to a report in Chinese state media. The news follows a move by Britain's communications regulator last week to strip the state-run China global television network of its broadcast license in the U.K.

Updated at 11 a.m. ET

The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Thursday it will begin enforcing the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The move follows an executive order signed by President Biden on his first day in office instructing agencies to enforce prohibitions on such discrimination.

Updated at 1:30 p.m. ET

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new research on Wednesday that found wearing a cloth mask over a surgical mask offers more protection against the coronavirus, as does tying knots on the ear loops of surgical masks. Those findings prompted new guidance on how to improve mask fit at a time of concern over fast-spreading variants of the virus.

Updated at 2:06 p.m. ET

The National Transportation Safety Board has determined that the probable cause of the crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and six other passengers last year was the pilot's decision to continue flight under adverse weather conditions. The result, they said, was the pilot's "spatial disorientation" and loss of control.

Amid turmoil from the coronavirus pandemic, the economy, and political infighting, the man known for leading Europe's economy from crisis has been tapped to assemble a new government for Italy.

Mario Draghi, known as "Super Mario" from his time as the president of the European Central Bank, has agreed to form a new government at the request of Italian president Sergio Mattarella. This followed the collapse of the ruling coalition after the resignation of Giuseppe Conte as prime minister last week amid disagreements among its parties over the handling of the pandemic.

The number of active hate groups in the U.S. has declined, according an annual count by the Southern Poverty Law Center. But unfortunately – and not surprisingly to anyone who has read the news — it found no accompanying decline in hate and extremism.

Instead the law center, which is based in Montgomery, Ala., said that new white nationalist and neo-Nazi organizations have become more diffuse in their membership.

Protesters gathered in the streets of Warsaw and other cities on Wednesday night after Poland's government announced a near-total ban on abortion had suddenly gone into effect.

The country's Constitutional Court had ruled in October to ban terminations of pregnancies with fetal defects – nearly the only abortions that occur in Poland, which already had strict limits on the procedure.

Abortion will now only be permitted in cases of rape or incest, or when the mother's health or life is in danger.

The Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin on Wednesday warning of a continued threat from domestic violent extremists.

The bulletin did not cite any specific threat but described "a heightened threat environment across the United States, which DHS believes will persist in the weeks following the successful Presidential Inauguration."

Updated at 2:24 p.m. ET

At the first briefing by the Biden administration's COVID-19 response team on Wednesday, the message was clear: Science and scientists will lead the response. And the team has inherited a fractured and lagging strategy.

The briefing was led by Jeffrey Zients, a businessman who was a top economic adviser in the Obama administration. Asked how the Defense Production Act might be used to produce more vaccine doses faster, Zients said nothing has been ruled out.

A number of European countries have announced new mask recommendations and requirements, pushing aside fabric masks in favor of surgical masks or medical-grade respirators.

A federal judge in Florida has ordered that videos which allegedly show Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, paying for sex must be destroyed. The videos are from a sting set up by Jupiter, Fla., police at a local massage parlor.

Misdemeanor solicitation charges against Kraft and other men were dropped last year after the Florida 4th District Court of Appeal ruled that the videos were not admissible as evidence.

Updated at 4:33 p.m. ET

Teachers at Chicago Public Schools were slated to return to the classroom on Monday, in preparation for the return of students to the district's K-8 schools next week.

But on Sunday, a majority of the Chicago Teachers Union's membership voted in favor of a resolution to continue to work remotely. The union said 71% of its voting members had voted to conduct remote work only, with 86% voter participation.

The Biden administration will resume efforts to redesign the $20 bill to feature abolitionist Harriet Tubman, the White House said Monday.

Press secretary Jen Psaki said it's important that "our money ... reflect the history and diversity of our country, and Harriet Tubman's image gracing the new $20 note would certainly reflect that. So we're exploring ways to speed up that effort."

The Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was a security failure, an intelligence failure — or both.

How could security forces in the nation's capital be so swiftly and completely overwhelmed by rioters who stated their plans openly on a range of social media sites? President Trump had even tweeted on Dec. 19: "Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!"

Updated at 11:28 a.m. ET

Airbnb says it is canceling reservations made in the Washington, D.C., metro area during inauguration week, citing various officials' requests that people not travel to the area during this time.

The service will also block new bookings in the area during that period. Airbnb says it will refund guests whose reservations were canceled and reimburse hosts for the money they would have earned from the canceled reservations.

President-elect Joe Biden has nominated former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power to lead the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Biden also said he was elevating that role — USAID administrator — to be a member of the White House National Security Council.

The mob violence that descended on the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday was the culmination of weeks of incendiary rhetoric and increasingly feverish planning – much of which took place openly on websites popular with far-right conspiracy theorists.

Jared Holt spends a lot of time on those websites. He's a visiting research fellow with the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab, where he has been focused on extremist online activity.

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