AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EST | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

Current Conditions Mostly Cloudy  8.5°C

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

Rittenhouse verdict puts Biden in difficult political spot

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — A difficult political atmosphere for President Joe Biden may have become even more treacherous with the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse.

Biden was already facing sliding poll numbers with an electorate worn down by the coronavirus pandemic and increasing inflation. Now, the president finds himself caught between outraged Democrats — some of whom were already stewing over Biden’s inability to land police reform and voting rights legislation — and Republicans looking to use the Rittenhouse case to exploit the national divide over matters of grievance and race.

“This is one of the last things Biden wants to be engaging in at this moment as he tries to finish up the big Build Back Better bill and get that across the finish line through the Senate,” said Christopher Borick, director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion. “Race and Kyle Rittenhouse is not the space where he wants or needs to be going deep right now.”

The acquittal of Rittenhouse has touched off new conversations about racial justice, vigilantism and policing in America. The Illinois teen armed himself with an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle during an August 2020 protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, days after the shooting of a Black man by a white police officer. He said he came to small city to help protect a car lot from vandals and provide medical aid.

Rittenhouse would end up fatally shooting two men and maiming a third. Rittenhouse and his lawyers successfully argued that he had acted in self-defense during a confrontation in which he feared for his life.

___

Protests erupt over virus rules in Austria, Italy, Croatia

VIENNA (AP) — Tens of thousands of protesters, many from far-right groups, marched through Vienna on Saturday after the Austrian government announced a nationwide lockdown beginning Monday to contain skyrocketing coronavirus infections.

Demonstrations against virus restrictions also took place in Switzerland, Croatia, Italy, Northern Ireland and the Netherlands on Saturday, a day after Dutch police opened fire on protesters and seven people were injured in rioting that erupted in Rotterdam. Protesters rallied against coronavirus restrictions and mandatory COVID-19 passes needed in many European countries to enter restaurants, Christmas markets or sports events, as well as mandatory vaccinations.

The Austrian lockdown will start Monday and comes as average daily deaths have tripled in recent weeks and hospitals in heavily hit states have warned that intensive care units are reaching capacity. The lockdown will last at least 10 days but could go up to 20, officials said. People will be able to leave their homes only for specific reasons, including buying groceries, going to the doctor or exercising.

The government also will make vaccinations mandatory starting Feb. 1. Not quite 66% of Austria’s 8.9 million people are fully vaccinated, one of the lowest rates in Western Europe.

Saturday's march started off at Vienna’s massive Heldenplatz square. Chanting “Resistance!” and blowing whistles, protesters moved down the city’s inner ring road. Many waved Austrian flags and carried signs mocking Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg and Health Minister Wolfgang Mueckstein. Some wore doctor’s scrubs; others donned tinfoil hats. Most signs focused on the vaccine mandate: “My Body, My Choice,” read one. “We’re Standing Up for Our Kids!” said another.

___

Europe's COVID crisis pits vaccinated against unvaccinated

BRUSSELS (AP) — This was supposed to be the Christmas in Europe where family and friends could once again embrace holiday festivities and one another. Instead, the continent is the global epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic as cases soar to record levels in many countries.

With infections spiking again despite nearly two years of restrictions, the health crisis increasingly is pitting citizen against citizen — the vaccinated against the unvaccinated.

Governments desperate to shield overburdened healthcare systems are imposing rules that limit choices for the unvaccinated in the hope that doing so will drive up rates of vaccinations.

Austria on Friday went a step further, making vaccinations mandatory as of Feb. 1.

"For a long time, maybe too long, I and others thought that it must be possible to convince people in Austria, to convince them to get vaccinated voluntarily,” Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said.

___

US seeks balance as fears grow Russia may invade Ukraine

WASHINGTON (AP) — The buildup of Russian troops near Ukraine has left U.S. officials perplexed, muddying the Biden administration’s response.

Some Republican lawmakers have been pressing the U.S. to step up military support for Ukraine. But that risks turning what may be mere muscle-flexing by Russian President Vladimir Putin into a full-blown confrontation that only adds to the peril for Ukraine and could trigger an energy crisis in Europe.

But a weak U.S. response carries its own risks. It could embolden Putin to take more aggressive steps against Ukraine as fears grow he could try to seize more of its territory. And it could cause more political damage for President Joe Biden at a time his popularity is dropping.

Knowing how to strike the right balance would be easier if the U.S. had a better understanding of what Putin was trying to accomplish. But top officials admit they don’t know.

“We’re not sure exactly what Mr. Putin is up to,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Wednesday. A week earlier, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “We don’t have clarity into Moscow’s intentions, but we do know its playbook."

___

Conflict over abortion laws won't abate if Roe v. Wade falls

On both sides of America’s abortion debate, activists are convinced that Roe v. Wade — the 1973 Supreme Court ruling establishing a nationwide right to abortion — is imperiled as never before.

Yet no matter how the current conservative-dominated court handles pending high-profile abortion cases — perhaps weakening Roe, perhaps gutting it completely — there will be no monolithic, nationwide change. Fractious state-by-state battles over abortion access will continue.

Roe's demise would likely prompt at least 20 Republican-governed states to impose sweeping bans; perhaps 15 Democratic-governed states would reaffirm support for abortion access.

More complicated would be politically divided states where fights over abortion laws could be ferocious — and likely become a volatile issue in the 2022 elections.

“Many of these states are one election away from a vastly different political landscape when it comes to abortion,” said Jessica Arons, a reproductive rights lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union.

___

Subdivision's social posts reflected fear before Arbery shot

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) — Months before Ahmaud Arbery was killed, shooter Travis McMichael wrote a simple, chilling response to a Facebook post about a suspected car burglary in his Georgia neighborhood: “Arm up.”

The item he commented on was sandwiched between chats about lost dogs and water service interruption, like in many online communities in the U.S. based around physical neighborhoods.

But in the year before Arbery's death, the posts in the Facebook group for the subdivision where McMichael lived portray a neighborhood increasingly on edge over low-level incidents, with residents swapping suspicions, keeping children inside and becoming willing to take matters into their own hands.

At a time of broad re-examination of race, criminal justice and the role of technology, such online neighborhood forums in the U.S. have a troubling tendency to veer from wholesome community chitchat to anxious hypervigilance when suspicion is the discussion topic.

“It causes people both to be more anxious, more on-alert or hypersensitive. But it also makes them more suspicious of someone not like them,” in a variety of ways, said media psychologist Pamela Rutledge. “It’s really sort of stacking the kindling, so to speak, because people are then watching for something to go wrong.”

___

Atlanta airport checkpoint chaos: Man grabs gun, it goes off

ATLANTA (AP) — A passenger awaiting a search at the Atlanta airport's main security checkpoint reached in his bag and grabbed a firearm, and it went off, causing chaos among travelers and prompting a temporary FAA ground stop on flights Saturday afternoon, officials said. The man fled.

The man, later identified as a convicted felon, ran with the gun from the checkpoint and escaped out an airport exit, the Transportation Security Administration said. Authorities said it was not an active shooter incident and described the discharge as accidental.

Police said later they had issued a warrant for the arrest of the passenger, 42-year-old Kenny Wells.

The airport's police commander, Maj. Reginald Moorman, said Wells was being sought on charges including carrying a concealed weapon at a commercial airport, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, discharging a firearm and reckless conduct.

“We are actively pursuing this individual as we speak,” Moorman said at a news briefing Saturday evening with TSA and airport officials.

___

New hurdle for COVID-19 home testing -- the holiday season

WASHINGTON (AP) — Millions more home tests for COVID-19 are hitting store shelves, but will there be enough for Americans hoping to screen themselves before holiday gatherings?

Gone are last year's long lines to get tested, thanks to nearly a year of vaccinations, increased testing supplies and quicker options. But with many Americans unvaccinated and reports of infections among those who've gotten the shots, some are looking to home tests for an extra layer of protection ahead of this year's festivities.

Janis Alpine of Seattle is getting together with seven relatives for Thanksgiving, including her 97-year-old father. While everyone is vaccinated, she plans to bring enough Abbott rapid tests for them to use.

“I’m just used to testing now," said Alpine, who is retired. “Even though he’s vaccinated, just getting a little bit sick is probably not the best thing for a 97-year-old.”

She began testing herself regularly in September after flights to Las Vegas and the East Coast for vacation. Because local pharmacies sometimes sell out of tests, she usually buys five packs at a time when she finds them.

___

Hundreds protest Rittenhouse acquittal across US

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Law enforcement in Portland Friday night declared a riot as about 200 demonstrators protested the acquittal of a teen who killed two people and injured another in Wisconsin.

The Multnomah County Sheriff's Office said the protesters were breaking windows, throwing objects at police and talking about burning down a local government building in downtown Portland, KOIN TV reported, but the crowd had dispersed by about 11 p.m. Several people were given citations, the Portland Police Bureau said, but only one person who had an outstanding warrant from another matter was arrested.

The protesters gathered following the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse, 18, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Rittenhouse killed two people and injured another during a protest against police brutality in Wisconsin last year.

Protests have been held in several other U.S. cities nationwide over the verdict, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

About 1,000 people marched through downtown Chicago Saturday afternoon, organized by Black Lives Matter Chicago and other local activist groups. According to the Chicago Tribune, protesters held signs that stated, “STOP WHITE SUPREMACY” and “WE’RE HITTING THE STREETS TO PROTEST THIS RACIST INJUSTICE SYSTEM” with a picture of Rittenhouse carrying a weapon.

___

Fox says it did not pay for Rittenhouse film and interview

NEW YORK (AP) — A Fox News executive said Saturday the network did not pay Kyle Rittenhouse's family for any special access during Rittenhouse's murder trial or after his acquittal, after it was announced that he would speak to Tucker Carlson for an interview to air on Monday.

The comment came after Rittenhouse's trial attorney, Mark Richards, said that a Fox documentary crew was embedded with Rittenhouse's team against his wishes. Richards told The Associated Press on Saturday that he didn't think the filming was appropriate and that he had tossed the crew out of meetings several times.

“It was not approved by me, but I'm not always in control,” he told the AP. “I think it detracted from what we were trying to do, and that was obviously to get Kyle found not guilty.”

Richards, to the AP and in similar remarks to CNN on Friday night, said it was arranged by those who were raising money for Rittenhouse, though he did not say that Fox paid Rittenhouse.

Carlson, on his show Friday, showed portions of what his film crew had recorded, including Rittenhouse's first public comments after being acquitted of murder charges in a trial that sparked a national debate on guns and self-defense.

News from © The Associated Press, 2021
The Associated Press

  • Popular kelowna News
View Site in: Desktop | Mobile