Is relief in sight?

Is relief in sight?

More than $1 million has been raised to help victims of the horrific parade crash in Waukesha, Wisconsin. And how long will we need to get COVID-19 vaccine boosters?

👋 Hey! Laura here. It’s Tuesday, so here’s Tuesday’s news.

But first, here comes Snowbegone Kenobi! ⛄️ William Scrape-speare. Plowy McPlowFace. Those were a few of the cute names kids in Vermont picked for the state’s Name a Plow Program.

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US to release 50M barrels of oil in an effort to help with gas prices

After weeks of growing concerns over rising gas prices, President Joe Biden ordered the Energy Department on Tuesday to release 50 million barrels of crude oil from the country’s emergency reserves. Following months of diplomatic negotiations, the United States will release the oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in parallel with other major energy-consuming countries, including China, India and the United Kingdom. Though prices are likely to go down over the next few months, analysts said the White House’s announcement was underwhelming. They were skeptical the action would have a sweeping or immediate effect – given some action was expected – and noted the White House “has limited options” in bringing down gas prices. Biden has been under mounting political pressure to provide Americans relief from higher gas prices and to tame inflation, which hit a 31-year high last month.

Donations pour in for victims of Waukesha parade tragedy

Donations to aid the victims of Sunday’s fatal parade crash, some of whom were children, poured in Tuesday as a suspect was charged with five counts of first-degree intentional homicide. Police said Darrell Brooks Jr., 39, of Milwaukee, was fleeing a domestic disturbance where a knife was reported when he rammed an SUV into the parade route Sunday night, injuring nearly 50 people. In court Tuesday, prosecutors said a sixth victim, a child, had died. By Tuesday afternoon, more than $1 million had been donated to crowdfunding campaigns and a community fund for victims, some of whom were still fighting for their lives, according to the campaigns.

People gather in Cutler Park for a candlelight vigil  for those affected by the Christmas parade tragedy Nov. 22 in Waukesha, Wis.

What everyone’s talking about

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Jury begins deliberation in trial over Arbery’s death

Jurors in the trial of the three men charged with the murder of Ahmaud Arbery began deliberating before noon Tuesday after attorneys made their closing arguments. Twelve jurors will decide whether Travis McMichael, his father, Gregory, and William “Roddie” Bryan are guilty of murder and other crimes in the death of the 25-year-old Black man on Feb. 23, 2020. The men were arrested two months after the shooting when video of the homicide taken by Bryan was released to the public, and protests erupted. How the nearly all-white panel decides on a verdict could hinge on how they view Travis McMichael, who fatally shot Arbery and was the only defendant to testify, according to legal experts.

Members of Ahmaud Arbery's family view the prosecutors' final rebuttal Nov. 23 before the jury begins deliberations at the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Ga., in the trial of William "Roddie" Bryan, Travis McMichael and Gregory McMichael, who are charged with killing Arbery, 25, in February 2020.

Will we need COVID-19 vaccine boosters forever?

The short answer? Not sure. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said it’s too early to tell whether Americans will need another COVID-19 vaccine booster. “The honest answer is that we do not know at this point, but we’re collecting data,” Fauci said, adding that studies across the globe have made it clear that boosters “significantly enhance protection” from COVID-19. The hope is that the booster dose will give the immune response “a chance to mature and strengthen,” he said, and last longer than the second dose, which waned in effectiveness after several months. Boosters are available at more than 80,000 locations, and about 36% of Americans have been boosted, according to the White House. 

Sister Kathy Longheier with St. Mary's School receives a COVID-19 booster vaccine shot from registered nurse Christine Gogerty at a clinic at the Massillon Health Department in northeast Ohio on Oct. 12.

Real quick

And the Grammy nominees are…

The Recording Academy announced nominees for its 64th Grammy Awards Tuesday, and Jon Batiste’s “Bigger Than Us” is an apt description of the musician’s Grammy recognition. The jazz/R&B veteran, best known as the bandleader on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” corralled a leading 11 nominations, including first-time nods for record (“Freedom”) and album of the year (“We Are”). Batiste is followed by Justin Bieber, H.E.R. and Doja Cat, all of whom scored eight nods. Billie Eilish ties pop newcomer Olivia Rodrigo with seven nominations each. Nominees for other top awards include Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Kanye West and K-pop group BTS, which scored big at Sunday’s fan-voted American Music Awards. The Grammys will air live on CBS and stream on Paramount+ on Jan. 31 at 8 p.m. EST.

Musician Jon Batiste was co-nominated for an Academy Award for Original Score for "Soul."

A break from the news

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