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AP News in Brief at 11:03 p.m. EDT

July 25, 2021 - 8:04 PM

Fauci says US headed in `wrong direction' on coronavirus

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — The United States is in an “unnecessary predicament” of soaring COVID-19 cases fueled by unvaccinated Americans and the virulent delta variant, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert said Sunday.

“We’re going in the wrong direction,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, describing himself as “very frustrated.”

He said recommending that the vaccinated wear masks is “under active consideration” by the government’s leading public health officials. Also, booster shots may be suggested for people with suppressed immune systems who have been vaccinated, Fauci said.

Fauci, who also serves as President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, told CNN’s "State of the Union" that he has taken part in conversations about altering the mask guidelines.

He noted that some local jurisdictions where infection rates are surging, such as Los Angeles County, are already calling on individuals to wear masks in indoor public spaces regardless of vaccination status. Fauci said those local rules are compatible with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation that the vaccinated do not need to wear masks in public.

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Olympics Latest: Ledecky denied gold in 400m freestyle

TOKYO (AP) — The Latest on the Tokyo Olympics, which are taking place under heavy restrictions after a year’s delay because of the coronavirus pandemic:

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MEDAL ALERT

Australia’s Ariarne Titmus has defeated American Katie Ledecky in the 400-meter freestyle at the Tokyo Olympics.

Titmus won one of the most anticipated races of the games, capturing the gold medal with the second-fastest time in history.

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Pelosi appoints 2nd GOP critic of Trump to Jan. 6 committee

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday named a second Republican critic of Donald Trump, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, to a special committee investigating the Capitol riot and pledged that the Democratic-majority panel will “get to the truth.” Kinzinger said he “humbly accepted” the appointment even as his party's leadership is boycotting the inquiry.

With the committee set to hold its first meeting, hearing from police officers who battled the rioters, Pelosi said it was imperative to learn what happened on Jan. 6, when insurrectionists disrupted the congressional certification of Joe Biden's presidential victory, and why the violent siege took place. That mission, she said, must be pursued in a bipartisan manner to ensure “such an attack can never happen again.”

Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican, will bring "great patriotism to the committee’s mission: to find the facts and protect our Democracy,” she said in a statement.

He joins Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, as the two committee's Republicans, both selected by the leader of the opposition party. Kinzinger and Cheney were among the 10 House Republicans to vote for Trump’s second impeachment. They were the only two Republicans who voted last month to form the special committee.

“For months, lies and conspiracy theories have been spread, threatening our self-governance,” Kinzinger said in a statement. “For months, I have said that the American people deserve transparency and truth on how and why thousands showed up to attack our democracy.”

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California's largest fire burns homes as blazes scorch West

INDIAN FALLS, Calif. (AP) — California's largest wildfire merged with a smaller blaze and destroyed homes in remote areas with limited access for firefighters, as numerous other fires gained strength and threatened property across the U.S. West.

The massive Dixie Fire, which started July 14, had already leveled over a dozen houses and other structures when it combined with the Fly Fire and tore through the tiny Northern California community of Indian Falls after dark Saturday.

An updated damage estimate was not available Sunday, though fire officials said the blaze had charred nearly 298 square miles acres (772 square kilometers) of timber and brush in Plumas and Butte counties. It was 21% contained.

Firefighters carrying hand tools were forced to hike through rugged terrain where engines can't go, said Rick Carhart, spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

“It has been burning in extremely steep canyons, some places where it is almost impossible for human beings to set foot on the ground to get in there,” he said. "It’s going to be a long haul.”

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French parliament OKs restaurant COVID pass, vaccine rules

PARIS (AP) — France's parliament approved a law early Monday requiring special virus passes for all restaurants and domestic travel and mandating vaccinations for all health workers.

Both measures have prompted protests and political tensions. President Emmanuel Macron and his government say they are needed to protect vulnerable populations and hospitals as infections rebound and to avoid new lockdowns.

The law requires all workers in the health care sector to start getting vaccinated by Sept. 15, or risk suspension. It also requires a “health pass” to enter all restaurants, trains, planes and some other public venues. It initially applies to all adults, but will apply to everyone 12 and older starting Sept. 30.

To get the pass, people must have proof they are fully vaccinated, recently tested negative or recently recovered from the virus. Paper or digital documents will be accepted. The law says a government decree will outline how to handle vaccination documents from other countries.

The bill was unveiled just six days ago. Lawmakers worked through the night and the weekend to reach a compromise version approved by the Senate on Sunday night and by the National Assembly after midnight. The rules can be applied through Nov. 15, depending on the virus situation.

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Aussie Terminator takes out Ledecky in 1st Olympics matchup

TOKYO (AP) — The Terminator knocked off Katie Ledecky at the Tokyo Olympics.

Australia’s Ariarne Titmus chased down Ledecky to win one of the most anticipated races of the Summer Games, capturing the gold medal with the second-fastest time in history Monday.

Titmus, who trailed by nearly a full body-length at the halfway mark of the eight-lap race, turned on the speed to touch in 3 minutes, 56.69 seconds.

Ledecky was the defending Olympic champion and world-record holder. She settled for the silver this time in 3:57.36 -- the fourth-fastest time ever recorded.

No one else was even close. The bronze went to China’s Li Bingjie in 4:01.08.

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Senators race to overcome final snags in infrastructure deal

WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawmakers racing to seal a bipartisan infrastructure deal early this coming week are hitting a major roadblock over how much money should go to public transit, the group’s lead Republican negotiator said Sunday.

As discussions continued through the weekend, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman said both sides were “about 90% of the way there” on an agreement.

“We have one issue outstanding, and we’re not getting much response from the Democrats on it,” he said. “It’s about mass transit. Our transit number is very generous.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has said he wants to pass a bipartisan package and an accompanying $3.5 trillion budget plan before the Senate leaves for its August recess. He held a procedural vote last week to begin debate on the broad framework, but all 50 Senate Republicans voted against it, saying they needed to see the full details of the plan.

Democrats want to see more of the money in the roughly $1 trillion infrastructure agreement go toward boosting public transportation, which includes subways, light-rail lines and buses, in line with President Joe Biden’s original infrastructure proposal.

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1960s civil rights activist Robert Moses has died

Robert Parris Moses, a civil rights activist who was shot at and endured beatings and jail while leading Black voter registration drives in the American South during the 1960s and later helped improve minority education in math, has died. He was 86.

Moses, who was widely referred to as Bob, worked to dismantle segregation as the Mississippi field director of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee during the civil rights movement and was central to the 1964 “Freedom Summer” in which hundreds of students went to the South to register voters.

Moses started his “second chapter in civil rights work” by founding in 1982 the Algebra Project thanks to a MacArthur Fellowship. The project included a curriculum Moses developed to help struggling students succeed in math.

Ben Moynihan, the director of operations for the Algebra Project, said Moses’ wife, Dr. Janet Moses, told him her husband passed away Sunday morning in Hollywood, Florida. Information was not given as to the cause of death.

"Bob Moses was a hero of mine. His quiet confidence helped shape the civil rights movement, and he inspired generations of young people looking to make a difference," said former President Barack Obama on Twitter.

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Sparked by pandemic fallout, homeschooling surges across US

Although the pandemic disrupted family life across the U.S. since taking hold in spring 2020, some parents are grateful for one consequence: They're now opting to homeschool their children, even as schools plan to resume in-person classes.

The specific reasons vary widely. Some families who spoke with The Associated Press have children with special educational needs; others seek a faith-based curriculum or say their local schools are flawed. The common denominator: They tried homeschooling on what they thought was a temporary basis and found it beneficial to their children.

“That’s one of the silver linings of the pandemic – I don’t think we would have chosen to homeschool otherwise,” said Danielle King of Randolph, Vermont, whose 7-year-old daughter Zoë thrived with the flexible, one-on-one instruction. Her curriculum has included literature, anatomy, even archaeology, enlivened by outdoor excursions to search for fossils.

The surge has been confirmed by the U.S. Census Bureau, which reported in March that the rate of households homeschooling their children rose to 11% by September 2020, more than doubling from 5.4% just six months earlier.

Black households saw the largest jump; their homeschooling rate rose from 3.3% in the spring of 2020 to 16.1% in the fall.

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Only Tokyo could pull off these Games? Not everyone agrees

TOKYO (AP) — Staging an Olympics during the worst pandemic in a century? There’s a widespread perception that it couldn’t happen in a better place than Japan.

A vibrant, open democracy with deep pockets, the host nation is known for its diligent execution of detail-laden, large-scale projects, its technological advances, its consensus-building and world-class infrastructure. All this, on paper, at least, gives the strong impression that Japan is one of the few places in the world that could even consider pulling off the high-stakes tightrope walk that the Tokyo Games represent.

Some in Japan aren't buying it.

“No country should hold an Olympics during a pandemic to start with. And if you absolutely must, then a more authoritarian and high-tech China or Singapore would probably be able to control COVID better,” said Koichi Nakano, a politics professor at Sophia University in Tokyo.

The bureaucratic, technological, logistical and political contortions required to execute this unprecedented feat — a massively complicated, deeply scrutinized spectacle during a time of global turmoil, death and suffering — have already put an unwelcome spotlight on the country.

News from © The Associated Press, 2021
The Associated Press

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