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AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT

March 22, 2021 - 8:04 PM

Police: 10 people killed in Colorado supermarket shooting

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — A shooting at a Colorado supermarket killed 10 people Monday, including a police officer who was the first to respond to the scene, authorities said.

Police arrested a suspect, but didn't reveal his name or any details about the shooting at an evening news conference where Boulder police Chief Maris Herold fought back tears.

Investigators had just begun sorting through evidence and witness interviews and didn’t have details on a motive for the shooting at the King Soopers store in Boulder, which is about 25 miles (40 kilometres) northwest of Denver and home to the University of Colorado, said Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty.

“This is a tragedy and a nightmare for Boulder County,” Dougherty said. “These were people going about their day, doing their shopping. I promise the victims and the people of the state of Colorado that we will secure justice."

The attack was the seventh mass killing this year in the U.S., following the March 16 shooting that left eight people dead at three Atlanta-area massage businesses, according to a database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University.

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Photos of migrant detention highlight Biden's border secrecy

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden's administration has tried for weeks to keep the public from seeing images like those that emerged Monday showing immigrant children in U.S. custody at the border sleeping on mats under foil blankets, separated in groups by plastic partitions.

Administration officials have steadfastly refused to call the detention of more than 15,000 children in U.S. custody, or the conditions they're living under, a crisis. But they have stymied most efforts by outsiders to decide for themselves.

Officials barred non-profit lawyers who conduct oversight from entering a Border Patrol tent where thousands of children and teenagers are detained. And federal agencies have refused or ignored dozens of requests from the media for access to detention sites. Such access was granted several times by the administration of President Donald Trump, whose restrictive immigration approach Biden vowed to reverse.

The new president faces growing criticism for the apparent secrecy at the border, including from fellow Democrats.

Biden's national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said Monday “the administration has a commitment to transparency to make sure that the news media gets the chance to report on every aspect of what’s happening at the border.”

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Biden eyes $3T package for infrastructure, schools, families

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fresh off passage of the COVID-19 relief bill, President Joe Biden is assembling the next big White House priority, a sweeping $3 trillion package of investments on infrastructure and domestic needs.

Biden huddled privately late Monday with Senate Democrats as Congress has already begun laying the groundwork with legislation for developing roads, hospitals and green energy systems as part of Biden's “Build Back Better” campaign promise. Much like the $1.9 trillion virus rescue plan signed into law earlier this month, the new package would also include family-friendly policies, this time focusing on education and paid family leave.

The White House plans are still preliminary, with a combined $3 trillion in spending proposed to boost the economy and improve quality of life, according to a person familiar with the options who insisted on anonymity to discuss private conversations.

While the goal is a bipartisan package, Democrats in Congress have signalled a willingness to go it alone if they are blocked by Republicans.

“We need to get it done,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., ahead of the virtual meeting with Biden at the senators' annual retreat Monday evening.

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Hugs, at last: Nursing homes easing rules on visitors

An 88-year-old woman in Ohio broke down in tears as her son hugged her for the first time in a year. Nursing home residents and staff in California sang “Over the Rainbow” as they resumed group activities and allowed visitors back in. A 5-year-old dove into the lap of her 94-year-old great-great-aunt for a long embrace in Rhode Island.

Nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other kinds of elderly residences battered by COVID-19 are easing restrictions and opening their doors for the first time since the start of the pandemic, leading to joyous reunions around the country after a painful year of isolation, Zoom calls and greetings through windows.

The vaccination drive, improved conditions inside nursing homes, and relaxed federal guidelines have paved the way for the reunions.

There have been welcome-back parties, birthday celebrations, coffee hours on the patio and more in recent days, giving older Americans and their families a glimpse into what life may look like in a post-vaccine world.

“This is the beginning of the very best to come, hopefully, for all of us,” said Gloria Winston, a 94-year-old retirement community resident in Providence, Rhode Island. “The world is going in the right direction. We need the nourishment of each other.”

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Germany extends virus lockdown till mid-April as cases rise

BERLIN (AP) — Germany has extended its lockdown measures by another month and imposed several new restrictions, including largely shutting down public life over Easter, in an effort to drive down the rate of coronavirus infections.

Speaking early Tuesday after a lengthy video call with the country's 16 state governors, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that restrictions previously set to run through March 28 will now remain in place until April 18.

Coronavirus infections have increased steadily in Germany as the more contagious variant first detected in Britain has become dominant, and the country's daily number of cases per capita has passed that of the United States.

“We basically have a new pandemic,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin.

“Essentially we have a new virus, obviously of the same type but with completely different characteristics,” she added. “Significantly more deadly, significantly more infectious (and) infectious for longer.”

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Not rusty: Oregon soars past Iowa 95-80 into Sweet 16

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Oregon weaved its way through a pandemic-altered season filled with injuries, pauses and uncertainty to win a conference title.

When another kink surfaced in the NCAA Tournament, the resilient, adaptable Ducks shook it off and soared.

Off to another Sweet 16.

Chris Duarte scored 23 points and Oregon showed no signs of rust after a long layoff, beating No. 2 seed Iowa 95-80 on Monday to reach the Sweet 16 for the fourth time in the past five NCAA Tournaments. The Ducks await either Kansas or Pac-12 rival Southern California.

“The guys fought through it, they stayed together,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “I'm proud of the way they responded.”

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Colombian town uses discipline, speakers to stay virus-free

CAMPOHERMOSO, Colombia (AP) — When customers enter his hardware store Nelson Avila asks them to wear a mask and wash their hands. He sprays alcohol over the bills and coins they give him before putting them in the till.

Avila's shop is in Campohermoso, a town of 3,000 people in Boyaca state in the mountains of central Colombia that has no reported cases of the coronavirus. According to the Health Ministry, Campohermoso county - which consists of the town and surrounding farms and villages - is one of just two counties in the country that are COVID-19-free. Colombia has more than 1,100 counties.

“Those bills can carry the virus” said Avila, 49, as he disinfects a wad of wrinkled Colombian pesos. “They go from hand to hand, so we have to be careful.”

Officials and locals say the town has been able to keep the virus away thanks to the disciplined behaviour of its residents and constant campaigns urging people to social distance and wear masks.

The town’s remote location ringed by mountains, far from major roads, has also helped it to stay coronavirus-free. It has just seven streets and six avenues laid out in a neat grid. It is nestled at the bottom of a green valley, 3300 feet (about 1,000 metres) above sea level.

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DC's long-simmering statehood push begins in Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington, D.C.'s bid for statehood finally got a congressional hearing Monday, but Mayor Muriel Bowser's clashes with Republicans on the panel made clear that the issue is far from settled.

Republicans accused Democrats of a cynical power play, claimed statehood was never the intention of the country’s Founding Fathers, and insisted that Congress doesn’t even have the right to grant statehood to D.C.

Bowser argued that Washingtonians' lack of representation in Congress was "one of the remaining glaring civil rights issues of our time.”

Supporters of D.C.'s quest for statehood believe the time is right to bring the long-simmering and racially charged idea to fruition. It would give D.C. two senators and a fully voting member of the House. The District historically votes Democratic.

“We dare to believe that D.C. statehood is on the horizon,” said the District's long-serving, nonvoting delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, who wrote the bill and said it has overwhelming support in the House.

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US weather model upgraded to better forecast extreme events

The National Weather Service has turbocharged its lagging forecast model to better predict extreme weather events such as hurricanes, blizzards and downpours, as well as day-to-day weather.

By including much higher layers of the atmosphere, increased factoring of ocean waves and other improvements, the weather service’s update to its Global Forecast System is trying to catch up with a European weather model that many experts consider superior.

Tests for the past two years show the upgrade, which kicked in Monday, forecast heavy rains and snowfall 15% better five days out and improved hurricane and tropical storm tracks by more than 10%, better pinpointing storm formation five to seven days in advance.

Forecasters say this new model does not predict more rain and snow than actually arrives, which its predecessor had a tendency to do. The new model was significantly better at forecasting the massive Colorado snowstorm earlier this month, getting the storm arrival time and snow amounts far more accurately than the older version, said Vijay Tallapragada, chief of modeling at the agency’s Environmental Modeling Center.

Internal studies also showed the new model was generally more accurate earlier on downpours in the Southeast in February 2020, Hurricane Dorian in 2019 and Hurricane Michael in 2018.

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Miami's South Beach confronts disastrous spring break

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Florida’s famed South Beach is desperately seeking a new image.

With more than 1,000 arrests and nearly 100 gun seizures already during this year's spring break season, officials are thinking it may finally be time to cleanse the hip neighbourhood of its law-breaking, party-all-night vibe.

The move comes after years of increasingly stringent measures — banning alcohol from beaches, cancelling concerts and food festivals — have failed to stop the city from being overrun with out-of-control parties and anything-goes antics.

This weekend alone, spring breakers and pandemic-weary tourists drawn by Florida's loose virus-control rules gathered by the thousands along famed Ocean Drive, at times breaking into street fights, destroying restaurant property and causing several dangerous stampedes. The situation got so out of hand that Miami Beach Police brought in SWAT teams to disperse pepper bullets and called in law enforcement officers from at least four other agencies. Ultimately, the city decided to order an emergency 8 p.m. curfew that will likely extend well into April after the spring break season is over.

“We definitely want people to come and have fun," Miami Beach Commissioner Ricky Arriola said Monday. "It's a nightlife city. We want people of all races, genders, sexual orientation. But we can’t tolerate people thinking they can come here and act out a scene from ‘Fast and the Furious,’ speeding down the streets and shooting guns in the air.”

News from © The Associated Press, 2021
The Associated Press

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