Countries worldwide hit new records for virus cases, deaths
Ambulances filled with breathless patients lined up in Brazil as nations around the world set new records Thursday for COVID-19 deaths and new coronavirus infections. The disease surged even in some countries that have kept the virus in check.
In the United States, Detroit leaders began making a plan to knock on every door to persuade people to get vaccine shots.
Brazil this week became just the third country, after the U.S. and Peru, to report a 24-hour tally of COVID-19 deaths that exceeded 4,000. India hit a peak of almost 127,000 new cases in 24 hours, and Iran set a new coronavirus infection record for the third straight day, reporting nearly 22,600 new cases.
In the state of Rio de Janeiro, emergency services are under their biggest strain since the pandemic began, with ambulances carrying patients of all ages to overcrowded hospitals struggling to care for everyone. Authorities say over 90% of the state’s intensive-care unit beds are taken by COVID-19 patients, and many cities are reporting people dying at home due to lack of available medical treatment.
“We’re already living the third wave. We have three times more calls," in comparison with previous waves, said Adriano Pereira, director of the mobile emergency care service in Duque de Caxias, an impoverished city outside Rio.
Biden orders gun control actions — but they show his limits
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden put on a modest White House ceremony Thursday to announce a half-dozen executive actions to combat what he called an “epidemic and an international embarrassment” of gun violence in America.
But he said much more is needed. And while Biden had proposed the most ambitious gun-control agenda of any modern presidential candidate, his moves underscored his limited power to act alone on guns with difficult politics impeding legislative action on Capitol Hill.
Biden’s new steps include a move to crack down on “ghost guns,” homemade firearms that lack serial numbers used to trace them and are often purchased without a background check. He's also moving to tighten regulations on pistol-stabilizing braces like the one used in Boulder, Colorado, in a shooting last month that left 10 dead.
The president's actions delivered on a pledge he made last month to take what he termed immediate “common-sense steps” to address gun violence, after a series of mass shootings drew renewed attention to the issue. His announcement came the day after yet another episode, this one in South Carolina, where five people were killed.
But his orders stop well short of some of his biggest campaign-trail proposals, including his promise to ban the importation of assault weapons, his embrace of a voluntary gun buyback program and a pledge to provide resources for the Justice Department and FBI to better enforce the nation’s current gun laws and track firearms.
Expert: Lack of oxygen killed George Floyd, not drugs
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — George Floyd died of a lack of oxygen from being pinned to the pavement with a knee on his neck, medical experts testified at former Officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial Thursday, emphatically rejecting the defense theory that Floyd's drug use and underlying health problems killed him.
“A healthy person subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to would have died,” said prosecution witness Dr. Martin Tobin, a lung and critical care specialist at the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital and Loyola University’s medical school in Illinois.
Using easy-to-understand language to explain medical concepts and even loosening his necktie to illustrate a point, Tobin told the jury that Floyd's breathing was severely constricted while Chauvin and two other Minneapolis officers held the 46-year-old Black man down on his stomach last May with his hands cuffed behind him and his face jammed against the ground.
The lack of oxygen resulted in brain damage and caused his heart to stop, the witness said.
Tobin, analyzing images of the three officers restraining Floyd for what prosecutors say was almost 9 1/2 minutes, testified that Chauvin's knee was “virtually on the neck” more than 90% of the time.
Defrocked US priest revered in East Timor accused of abuse
It was the same every night. A list of names was posted on the Rev. Richard Daschbach’s bedroom door. The child at the top of the roster knew it was her turn to share the lower bunk with the elderly priest and another elementary school-aged girl.
Daschbach was idolized in the remote enclave of East Timor where he lived, largely for his role in helping save lives during the tiny nation’s bloody struggle for independence. So, the girls never spoke about the abuse they suffered. They said they were afraid they would be banished from the shelter the 84-year-old from Pennsylvania established decades ago for abused women, orphans, and other destitute children.
The horrors of what they said happened behind closed doors over a period of years is now being played out in court -- the first clergy sex case in a country that is more solidly Catholic than any other place aside from the Vatican. The trial was postponed last month due to a coronavirus lockdown, but is expected to resume in May.
At least 15 females have come forward, according to JU,S Jurídico Social, a group of human rights lawyers representing them. The Associated Press has spoken to a third of the accusers, each recalling their experiences in vivid detail. They are not being identified because of fears of retribution.
They told AP Daschbach would sit on a chair every night in the middle of a room holding a little girl, surrounded by a ring of children and staff members praying and singing hymns before bed.
Authorities: NFL player Phillip Adams killed 5, then himself
ROCK HILL, S.C. (AP) — Former NFL player Phillip Adams fatally shot five people, including a prominent doctor, his wife and their two grandchildren before killing himself early Thursday.
York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson told a news conference that investigators had not yet determined a motive for Wednesday's mass shooting.
“There's nothing right now that makes sense to any of us," Tolson said.
Dr. Robert Lesslie, 70, and his wife, Barbara, 69, were pronounced dead in their home in Rock Hill along with grandchildren Adah Lesslie, 9, and Noah Lesslie, 5, the York County coroner’s office said.
A man who had been working at the Lesslie home, James Lewis, 38, from Gaston, was found shot to death outside. A sixth victim, Robert Shook, 38, of Cherryville, North Carolina, was flown to a Charlotte hospital, where he was in critical condition “fighting hard for his life,” said a cousin, Heather Smith Thompson.
Amazon takes early lead as union vote count gets underway
Vote counting in the union push at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, is underway but a winner may not be determined until Friday.
By Thursday evening, the count was tilting heavily against the union, with 1,100 workers rejecting it and 463 voting in favor. The count will resume Friday morning.
The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which is organizing the Bessemer workers, said that 3,215 votes were sent in — about 55% of the nearly 6,000 workers who were eligible to vote. The union said hundreds of those votes were contested, mostly by Amazon, for various reasons such as the voter didn’t work there or doesn’t qualify to vote. The union would not specify how many votes were being contested.
The National Labor Relations Board is conducting the vote count in Birmingham, Alabama. In order to determine a winner, the margin of victory must be more than the number of contested votes, otherwise a hearing would be held on whether or not to open the contested votes and count them toward the final tally.
RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum struck a grim tone Thursday in a statement ahead of the results: “Our system is broken, Amazon took full advantage of that, and we will be calling on the labor board to hold Amazon accountable for its illegal and egregious behavior during the campaign. But make no mistake about it; this still represents an important moment for working people and their voices will be heard.”
Interior secretary steps into Utah public lands tug-of-war
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — For decades, a public lands tug-of-war has played out over a vast expanse of southern Utah where red rocks reveal petroglyphs and cliff dwellings and distinctive twin buttes bulge from a grassy valley.
A string of U.S. officials has heard from those who advocate for broadening national monuments to protect the area's many archaeological and cultural sites, considered sacred to surrounding tribes, and those who fiercely oppose what they see as federal overreach.
On Thursday, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland was the latest cabinet official to visit Bears Ears National Monument — and the first Indigenous one.
Haaland, a member of Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico, met with tribes and elected officials at Bears Ears as she prepares to submit recommendations on whether to reverse President Donald Trump’s decision to downsize that site and Grand Staircase-Escalante, another Utah national monument.
“I know that decisions about public lands are incredibly impactful to the people who live nearby. But not just to us, not to just the folks who are here today, but people for generations to come,” Haaland told reporters during a news conference in the town of Blanding. “It’s our obligation to make sure that we protect lands for future generations so they can have the same experiences that the governor and I experienced today.”
Police: Employee kills 1, wounds 5 at Texas cabinet business
BRYAN, Texas (AP) — A man opened fire Thursday at a Texas cabinet-making company where he worked, killing one person and wounding five others before shooting and wounding a state trooper prior to his arrest, authorities said.
Bryan Police Chief Eric Buske told reporters he believes the suspect, whose name wasn't immediately released, is an employee at the Kent Moore Cabinets location where the shooting happened. He said investigators believe the man was solely responsible for the attack, which happened around 2:30 p.m., and that he was gone by the time officers arrived.
Two of the five people who were wounded at the business were hospitalized in critical condition, while three others were in serious but stable condition, according to a hospital statement. During the manhunt for the suspect, he shot and wounded a state trooper, who was hospitalized in serious but stable condition, the Texas Department of Public Safety said on Twitter.
Grimes County Sheriff Don Sowell said about two hours after the attack, the suspect was arrested in Bedias, a tiny community about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of Bryan.
Investigators were still trying to determine the motive for the attack, authorities said.
Grim view of global future offered in intelligence report
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. intelligence officials are painting a dark picture of the world's future, writing in a report released Thursday that the coronavirus pandemic has deepened economic inequality, strained government resources and fanned nationalist sentiments.
Those assessments are included in a Global Trends report by the government's National Intelligence Council, a document produced every four years. This year's report is designed to help policymakers and citizens anticipate the economic, environmental, technological and demographic forces likely to shape the world through the next 20 years.
The document focuses heavily on the impact of the pandemic, calling it the “most significant, singular global disruption since World War II, with health, economic, political, and security implications that will ripple for years to come.”
Nations in different parts of the world set new records Thursday for COVID-19 deaths and new infections, underscoring the lingering global toll of the virus.
“COVID-19 has shaken long-held assumptions about resilience and adaptation and created new uncertainties about the economy, governance, geopolitics, and technology,” the report says.
GLAAD Media Awards presenters support transgender athletes
LOS ANGELES (AP) — “Schitt’s Creek” and “The Boys in the Band” were winners at the GLAAD Media Awards, which included soccer’s Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger calling for transgender students to be accepted as “part of the team” in sports.
Harris and Krieger, spouses who play for the Orlando Pride and were on the 2019 World Cup-winning U.S. women’s national team, presented an award in Thursday's virtual ceremony to the film “Happiest Season,” about a lesbian romance.
The couple drew attention to transgender athletes amid widespread efforts to restrict their participation, including a recently signed Mississippi bill that bans them from competing on girls or women’s sports teams. It becomes law July 1.
“Trans students want the opportunity to play sports for the same reason other kids do: to be a part of a team where they feel like they belong,” Krieger said.
Added Harris: “We shouldn’t discriminate against kids and ban them from playing because they’re transgender.”