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

Police: 'Some' killed when SUV hits Christmas parade

WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) — An SUV driver sped through a police line and into a parade of Christmas marchers on Sunday, hitting more than 20 adults and children in a horrifying scene captured by the city’s livestream and the cellphones of onlookers.

Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson said “some” people had been killed but would not give an exact number. A person was in custody, he said, but he did not give any indication of motive.

One video shows a woman screaming, “Oh my God!” repeatedly after a group of girls wearing Santa hats and dancing with white pompoms is struck. Another shows the SUV plowing into members of a marching band, their music replaced with terrified screams

Fire Chief Steven Howard said 11 adults and 12 children were injured and transported to hospitals by his department. It was unknown how many people were taken to hospitals by others. Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin said it received 15 patients from the parade and no reported fatalities as of 8 p.m.

Police also had custody of the vehicle, Thompson said. The investigation was ongoing, with assistance from the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

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US missionaries say 2 of 17 abductees freed in Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Two of 17 members of a missionary group who were kidnapped more than a month ago have been freed in Haiti and are safe, “in good spirits and being cared for,” their Ohio-based church organization announced Sunday.

Christian Aid Ministries issued a statement saying it could not give the names of those released, why they were freed or other information.

“While we rejoice at this release, our hearts are with the 15 people who are still being held," the group said.

The missionaries were kidnapped by the 400 Mawozo gang on Oct. 16. There are five children in the group of 16 U.S. citizens and one Canadian, including an 8-month-old. Their Haitian driver also was abducted, according to a local human rights organization.

The leader of the 400 Mawozo gang has threatened to kill the hostages unless his demands are met. Authorities have said the gang was demanding $1 million per person, although it wasn’t immediately clear that included the children in the group.

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GOP embraces natural immunity as substitute for vaccines

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Republicans fighting President Joe Biden's coronavirus vaccine mandates are wielding a new weapon against the White House rules: natural immunity.

They contend that people who have recovered from the virus have enough immunity and antibodies to not need COVID-19 vaccines, and the concept has been invoked by Republicans as a sort of stand-in for vaccines.

Florida wrote natural immunity into state law this week as GOP lawmakers elsewhere are pushing similar measures to sidestep vaccine mandates. Lawsuits over the mandates have also begun leaning on the idea. Conservative federal lawmakers have implored regulators to consider it when formulating mandates.

Scientists acknowledge that people previously infected with COVID-19 have some level of immunity but that vaccines offer a more consistent level of protection. Natural immunity is also far from a one-size-fits-all scenario, making it complicated to enact sweeping exemptions to vaccines.

That’s because how much immunity COVID-19 survivors have depends on how long ago they were infected, how sick they were, and if the virus variant they had is different from mutants circulating now. For example, a person who had a minor case one year ago is much different than a person who had a severe case over the summer when the delta variant was raging through the country. It's also difficult to reliably test whether someone is protected from future infections.

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In Kenosha and beyond, guns become more common on US streets

As Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted in two killings that he said were self-defense, armed civilians patrolled the streets near the Wisconsin courthouse with guns in plain view.

In Georgia, testimony in the trial of Ahmaud Arbery’s killers showed that armed patrols were commonplace in the neighborhood where Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was chased down by three white men and shot.

The two proceedings sent startling new signals about the boundaries of self-defense as more guns emerge from homes amid political and racial tensions and the advance of laws that ease permitting requirements and expand the allowable use of force.

Across much of the nation, it has become increasingly acceptable for Americans to walk the streets with firearms, either carried openly or legally concealed. In places that still forbid such behavior, prohibitions on possessing guns in public could soon change if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down a New York law.

The new status quo for firearms outside the home was on prominent display last week in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Local resident Erick Jordan carried a rifle and holstered handgun near the courthouse where Rittenhouse was tried for killing two men and wounding a third with an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle during a protest last year.

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Far-right lawmaker, ex-protester to meet in Chilean runoff

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Two onetime outsiders hailing from opposite extremes of the political spectrum received the most votes Sunday in Chile’s presidential election but failed to garner enough support for an outright win, setting up a polarizing runoff in the region’s most advanced economy.

José Antonio Kast, a lawmaker who has a history of defending Chile’s military dictatorship, finished first with 28% of the vote compared to 26% for former student protest leader Gabriel Boric.

Kast, in a victory speech, doubled down on his far right rhetoric, framing the Dec. 19 runoff as a choice between “communism and liberty.” He blasted Boric as a puppet of Chile's Communist Party — a member of the broad coalition supporting his candidacy — who would pardon “terrorists," be soft on crime and promote instability in a country that has recently been wracked by protests laying bare deep social divisions.

“We don't want to go down the path of Venezuela and Cuba,” Kast, speaking from a lectern draped with a Chilean flag, told supporters in the capital. “We want a developed country, which is what we were aiming to become until we were stopped brutally by violence and the pandemic.”

In sharp contrast, Boric refrained from attacking Kast by name, accepting the results with humility and urging his supporters to listen to and convince doubters who voted for other candidates.

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Biden's political standing fuels Democratic worry about 2024

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — It was supposed to be a moment of triumph for Joe Biden.

The Democratic president had just signed into law the most significant infrastructure package in generations. And he had done it by bringing Democrats and Republicans together, just as he promised during last year's campaign. But when Biden arrived in New Hampshire last week to promote the $1 trillion package at the foot of a crumbling bridge, not all of his VIP guests were in the mood to celebrate.

“Democrats are concerned,” former state House Speaker Steve Shurtleff, a longtime Biden supporter who attended the ceremony, told The Associated Press when asked about Biden’s political standing. “I’m concerned about where we may be in another couple of years when people really start to gear up and start making trips to New Hampshire.”

Shurtleff was openly saying what a growing number of Democrats have been whispering for months: Biden's political standing is so weak less than a year into his presidency that he may not be able to win reelection in 2024 if he were to run again. Such anxiety-fueled parlor games are common among Washington's political class, but this one has spread to the states and constituencies that will play a central role in the next presidential election.

Vice President Kamala Harris is facing her own political conundrum with polls suggesting she may be less popular than her unpopular boss. A dynamic leader who made history by becoming the first Black woman and first person of South Asian descent to step into her office, Harris has been given few opportunities by the Biden White House to shine.

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Protesters trace route Rittenhouse took in Kenosha

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — Several dozen people gathered below the wind-whipped Wisconsin flag at Kenosha's Civic Center Park on Sunday and warmed up with chants for justice before taking to the streets in protest of the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse.

Demonstrators traced the route Rittenhouse took the night in August last year when he shot and killed two people and wounded a third during protests over police brutality. They carried signs that said “Reject Racist Vigilante Terror” and “THE WHOLE SYSTEM IS GUILTY!” A couple of protesters carried long guns.

Protesters regularly chanted, “No justice, no peace” and “Anthony and Jo Jo,” the latter referring to Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum, both of whom were shot and killed by Rittenhouse.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, 80, who walked the first leg of a protest march in Chicago on Saturday, was scheduled to appear in Kenosha, but did not come. Organizers said he instead was working with congressional leaders to ask that the Department of Justice investigate the case for further prosecution. A release from Jackson's Rainbow PUSH Coalition earlier Sunday said the Justice Department should also consider aiding and abetting charges for Rittenhouse's mother.

“The verdict of not guilty is very revealing of the state of criminal justice in America,” Bishop Grant, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition National Field Director, said in a statement.

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American Music Awards turn into a friendly place for BTS

NEW YORK (AP) — BTS were all over the American Music Awards on Sunday, performing with Coldplay on a raucous “My Universe” and taking home three big awards — artist of the year, favorite pop duo or group and favorite pop song for “Butter.”

“Seven boys from Korea, united by love of music, met the love and support from all the armies all over the world,” said RM. “This whole thing is a miracle. Seriously, we would never take this for granted.”

The show celebrated the best popular music for a second pandemic year with a mix of live and pre-taped performances. Silk Sonic’s Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak kicked off the awards on a funky, R&B and pre-taped note with their “Smokin Out the Window” and Jennifer Lopez pre-taped her “On My Way” from her upcoming romantic comedy “Marry Me.”

An earlier scheduled performance of “Butter” by BTS and Megan Thee Stallion was scrapped after the rapper cited personal reasons for dropping out Saturday. She turned out a big winner: named favorite female hip-hop artist, her “Good News” winning for favorite hip-hop album and her “Body” was crowned favorite trending song, a new award this year.

Olivia Rodrigo's bid to turn her album “Sour” into something very sweet was facing trouble. She entered the night as the leading nominee with seven nods but late into the show only could win new artist of the year. She lost favorite pop album to Taylor Swift's “evermore.” In a taped speech, Swift told her fans: “I’m so lucky to be in your life.”

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About 80 thieves ransack department store near San Francisco

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (AP) — About 80 people, some wearing ski masks and wielding crowbars, ransacked a high-end department store in the San Francisco Bay Area, assaulting employees and stealing merchandise before fleeing in cars waiting outside, police and witnesses said.

Three people were arrested while the majority got away after the large-scale theft Saturday night shocked shoppers at the Nordstrom at the Broadway Plaza outdoor mall in Walnut Creek, police said in a statement Sunday.

Two employees were assaulted and one was hit with pepper spray during what police called "clearly a planned event.”

NBC Bay Area reporter Jodi Hernandez tweeted that she saw the thieves rush into the store in the downtown shopping district in the city some 20 miles (32 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco.

“About 25 cars just blocked the street and rushed into the Walnut Creek Nordstrom making off with goods before getting in cars and speeding away,” Hernandez said on Twitter.

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'Tiger King' Joe Exotic moved to North Carolina facility

BUTNER, N.C. (AP) — The former Oklahoma zookeeper known as “Tiger King” Joe Exotic, a prominent figure in a Netflix documentary series, has been transferred to a medical facility in North Carolina for federal inmates after a cancer diagnosis, according to his attorney.

Joe Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, was flown on a plane to be transferred from a federal medical center in Fort Worth, Texas, to a federal medical center in Butner, North Carolina, late Tuesday or early Wednesday, defense attorney John Phillips said in a statement. Phillips, who tweeted his statement on Saturday, said Maldonado-Passage originally was scheduled to be transferred later this month.

Phillips said Maldonado-Passage told him that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and was getting medical treatment and tests “for a host of issues.” Phillips said prison medical care “isn't the best and justice is slow.”

“It's a competition of life and liberty no one wants any part of,” he added.

In July, a federal appeals court ruled that Maldonado-Passage should get a shorter prison sentence for his role in a murder-for-hire plot and violating federal wildlife laws.

News from © The Associated Press, 2021
The Associated Press

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