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AP News in Brief at 11:08 p.m. EDT

August 05, 2021 - 8:08 PM

'There are only so many beds': COVID-19 surge hits hospitals

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Florida hospitals slammed with COVID-19 patients are suspending elective surgeries and putting beds in conference rooms, an auditorium and a cafeteria. As of midweek, Mississippi had just six open intensive care beds in the entire state.

Georgia medical centers are turning people away. And in Louisiana, an organ transplant had to be postponed along with other procedures.

“We are seeing a surge like we’ve not seen before in terms of the patients coming,” Dr. Marc Napp, chief medical officer for Memorial Healthcare System in Hollywood, Florida, said Wednesday. “It’s the sheer number coming in at the same time. There are only so many beds, so many doctors, only so many nurses.”

Coronavirus hospitalizations are surging again as the more contagious delta variant rages across the country, forcing medical centers to return to a crisis footing just weeks after many closed their COVID-19 wards and field hospitals and dropped other emergency measures.

The number of people now in the hospital in the U.S. with COVID-19 has almost quadrupled over the past month to nearly 45,000, turning the clock back to early March, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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DeSantis feuds with Biden White House as COVID cases rise

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — It didn't take much for the White House to set Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis off. As coronavirus cases rise across the Sun Belt, President Joe Biden asked GOP governors to “get out of the way” of efforts to contain the virus.

DeSantis fired back that he did not want to “hear a blip about COVID from you, thank you,” adding, “Why don't you do your job?”

The exchange was unusually direct and bitter, particularly for politicians dealing with a crisis that is killing Americans in rising numbers. But it was a sign that the now-familiar cudgels of virus politics — debates pitting “freedoms” against masks and restrictions — remain potent weapons. And DeSantis, in particular, appears eager to carry that fight into next year’s midterms election, and beyond.

“He has become, I would argue, the leading voice of opposition to the Biden administration,” said Rob Bradley, a Republican who recently left the Florida Senate because of term limits. “It’s not a surprise to see Biden and DeSantis going at it.”

The strategy comes with risks. DeSantis is up for reelection next year and is frequently mentioned as a 2024 presidential contender. His national profile has risen in large part because he spent the early part of the pandemic pushing a message that prioritized his state’s economy over sweeping restrictions to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

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Two coaches removed from Tokyo Olympics in Belarus case

TOKYO (AP) — Two Belarus team coaches have been removed from the Olympics, four days after they were involved in trying to send sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya back to their country.

The International Olympic Committee said Friday it has canceled and removed the credentials of Artur Shimak and Yury Maisevich.

“The two coaches were requested to leave the Olympic Village immediately and have done so,” the IOC said.

It was done as an interim measure during a formal investigation “in the interest of the wellbeing of the athletes,” the Olympic body said.

Shimak and Maisevich continued to have contact with Belarusian athletes since Sunday after the IOC linked them to taking Tsimanouskaya in a car to the airport to put her on a plane to Belarus.

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At river where Tigrayan bodies floated, fears of 'many more'

WAD EL HILU, Sudan (AP) — From time to time, a body floating down the river separating Ethiopia’s troubled Tigray region from Sudan was a silent reminder of a war conducted in the shadows. But in recent days, the corpses became a flow.

Bloated, drained of color from their journey, the bodies were often mutilated: genitals severed, eyes gouged, a missing limb. The Sudanese fishermen who spotted them, and the refugees from Tigray who helped pull them to shore, found many corpses’ hands bound. Some of them had been shot.

The Associated Press reported dozens of bodies floating down the Tekeze River earlier this week and saw six of the graves on Wednesday, marking the first time any reporters could reach the scene. Doctors who saw the bodies said one was tattooed with a common name in the Tigrinya language and others had the facial markings common among Tigrayans, raising fresh alarm about atrocities in the least-known area of the Tigray war.

“They are from Tigray,” said Garey Youhanis, a Tigrayan who helped bury several bodies found on Sunday. With a piece of red cord, he demonstrated how their hands were tied behind their backs. He squatted on the rock-strewn shore, crossed himself and prayed.

The deaths are the latest massacre in a nine-month war that has killed thousands of civilians and is now spilling into other regions of Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous country and the anchor of the often-volatile Horn of Africa. Though Tigray forces in June reclaimed much of the region as Ethiopian and allied forces retreated, western Tigray is still controlled by authorities from Ethiopia’s neighboring Amhara region, who have cleared out many ethnic Tigrayans while saying the land is historically theirs. Witnesses have told the AP of watching mass expulsions.

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Brazil forest fire season underway and raising concern

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The season of Brazilian forest fires has begun, and early data plus severe drought is sparking concern that nationwide destruction in 2021 will stay at the high levels recorded in the past two years, despite efforts to tamp down the blazes.

The government space agency that uses satellites to monitor fires reported more area burned in the month of July than in any July since 2016, according to data released Thursday. The same was true for June.

Most Brazilian blazes are manmade, often started illegally by land-grabbers clearing forest for cattle or crops. Fires tend to begin increasing in June and peak in September, according to historical data. They can easily get out of control during the dry season, burning large swaths of forest to the ground.

Brazil is home to the world’s largest rainforest and tropical wetlands — the Amazon and Pantanal — which saw dramatic fires in 2019 and 2020, respectively, that caused the greatest annual forest loss since 2015. That drew global criticism of the response from the administration of President Jair Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly called for development of the region.

This year, it’s the Cerrado savanna stretching across Brazil’s center-west region that is suffering more than usual. An area almost as big as Connecticut and New Jersey burned there in the first seven months of 2021.

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Olympics Latest: Swiss win women's beach volleyball bronze

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

Switzerland has won the bronze medal in women’s beach volleyball.

Joana Heidrich and Anouk Verge-Depre of Switzerland cruised to a straight-set victory over Latvia on Friday morning in the third-place match.

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What Gov. Andrew Cuomo's accusers felt, in their own words

NEW YORK (AP) — Violated, demeaned, humiliated, a horror movie: Those are some of the words 11 women used to describe how Gov. Andrew Cuomo made them feel when he touched, kissed or hugged them or asked invasive questions.

Many of these women who spoke to investigators hired by the New York attorney general’s office were state employees. Others encountered Cuomo in professional settings or at public events.

Unwelcome sexual conduct that makes workers feel humiliated or uncomfortable is barred under New York’s sexual harassment law.

Cuomo has denied that he harassed or inappropriately touched anyone. He has said he did not intend to make anyone feel uncomfortable, saying instead he touched and kissed people to put them at ease and his actions were misunderstood because of generational or cultural differences.

Here , in their own words, is what each woman felt about how the governor treated her:

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'We lost Greenville': Wildfire decimates California town

GREENVILLE, Calif. (AP) — A 3-week-old wildfire engulfed a tiny Northern California mountain town, leveling most of its historic downtown and leaving blocks of homes in ashes as crews braced for another explosive run of flames Thursday amid dangerous weather.

The Dixie Fire, swollen by bone-dry vegetation and 40 mph (64 kph) gusts, raged through the northern Sierra Nevada community of Greenville on Wednesday. A gas station, church, hotel, museum and bar were among the fixtures gutted in the town dating back to California's gold rush era where some wooden buildings were more than 100 years old.

The fire “burnt down our entire downtown. Our historical buildings, families homes, small businesses, and our children’s schools are completely lost," Plumas County Supervisor Kevin Goss wrote on Facebook.

Plumas County Sheriff Tom Johns, a lifelong resident of Greenville, said that “well over" 100 homes were destroyed, as well as businesses.

“My heart is crushed by what has occurred there," he said.

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US automakers pledge huge increase in electric vehicles

WASHINGTON (AP) — Declaring the U.S. must “move fast” to win the world's carmaking future, President Joe Biden on Thursday announced a commitment from the auto industry to produce electric vehicles for as much as half of U.S. sales by the end of the decade.

Biden also wants automakers to raise gas mileage and cut tailpipe pollution between now and model year 2026. That would mark a significant step toward meeting his pledge to cut emissions and battle climate change as he pushes a history-making shift in the U.S. from internal combustion engines to battery-powered vehicles.

He urged that the components needed to make that sweeping change — from batteries to semiconductors — be made in the United States, too, aiming for both industry and union support for the environmental effort, with the promise of new jobs and billions in federal electric vehicle investments.

Pointing to electric vehicles parked on the White House South Lawn, the president declared them a “vision of the future that is now beginning to happen.”

“The question is whether we lead or fall behind in the race for the future,” he said, “Folks, the rest of the world is moving ahead. We have to catch up.”

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Hiroshima marks 76th anniversary of US atomic bombing

TOKYO (AP) — Hiroshima on Friday marked the 76th anniversary of the world's first atomic bombing, as the mayor of the Japanese city urged global leaders to unite to eliminate nuclear weapons, just as they are united against the coronavirus.

Mayor Kazumi Matsui urged world leaders to commit to nuclear disarmament as seriously as they tackle the pandemic that the international community recognizes as “threat to humanity.”

“Nuclear weapons, developed to win wars, are a threat of total annihilation that we can certainly end, if all nations work together,” Matsui said. “No sustainable society is possible with these weapons continually poised for indiscriminate slaughter.”

The United States dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, destroying the city and killing 140,000 people. It dropped a second bomb three days later on Nagasaki, killing another 70,000. Japan surrendered Aug. 15, ending World War II and its nearly half-century of aggression in Asia.

But countries stockpiled nuclear weapons in the Cold War and a standoff continues to this day.

News from © The Associated Press, 2021
The Associated Press

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