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

July 23, 2021 - 8:03 PM

Unlikely partners Pelosi and Cheney team up for Jan. 6 probe

WASHINGTON (AP) — When Nancy Pelosi raised a glass to Liz Cheney, it was the most unlikely of toasts.

Democratic lawmakers and the Republican congresswoman were gathered in the House speaker’s office as the group prepared for the first session of the committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

Pelosi spoke of the “solemn responsibility” before them and raised her water glass to Cheney, a daughter of the former vice president and the sole Republican in the room.

“Let us salute Liz for her courage,” she said, according to a person familiar with the gathering who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private meeting.

Politics often creates unlikely alliances, the odd-couple arrangements between would-be foes who drop their differences to engage on a common cause.

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AP-NORC poll: Most unvaccinated Americans don't want shots

Most Americans who haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19 say they are unlikely to get the shots and doubt they would work against the aggressive delta variant despite evidence they do, according to a new poll that underscores the challenges facing public health officials amid soaring infections in some states.

Among American adults who have not yet received a vaccine, 35% say they probably will not, and 45% say they definitely will not, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Just 3% say they definitely will get the shots, though another 16% say they probably will.

What's more, 64% of unvaccinated Americans have little to no confidence the shots are effective against variants — including the delta variant that officials say is responsible for 83% of new cases in the U.S. — despite evidence that they offer strong protection. In contrast, 86% of those who have already been vaccinated have at least some confidence that the vaccines will work.

That means “that there will be more preventable cases, more preventable hospitalizations and more preventable deaths,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins University.

“We always knew some proportion of the population would be difficult to persuade no matter what the data showed, (and) a lot of people are beyond persuasion,” Adalja said. He echoed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky in calling the current surge “a pandemic of the unvaccinated” because nearly all hospital admissions and deaths have been among those who weren't immunized.

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'The greatest honor': Osaka lights Olympic cauldron

TOKYO (AP) — What a moment for Naomi Osaka. For the new Japan. For racial injustice. For female athletes. For tennis.

The four-time Grand Slam winner lit the cauldron at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics on Friday.

It was a choice that could be appreciated worldwide: In Japan, of course, the country where Osaka was born and the nation that she plays for; in embattled Haiti because that’s where her father is from; and surely in the United States, because that’s where the globe’s highest-earning female athlete lives and where she has been outspoken about racial injustice.

Plus, everywhere in between, because Osaka is a superstar.

But she has often received an uncomfortable welcome in Japan because of her race, with her family having moved to the U.S. when she was 3. Her emergence as a top tennis player has challenged public attitudes about identity in a homogeneous culture that is being pushed to change.

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Biden stumps for McAuliffe in early test of political clout

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — President Joe Biden led the kind of campaign rally on Friday that was impossible last year because of the pandemic, speaking before nearly 3,000 people in support of a fellow moderate Democrat whose race for Virginia governor could serve as a test of Biden's own strength and coattails.

Biden motorcaded across the Potomac River to back Terry McAuliffe, a former governor looking for a second term whose centrist leanings in many ways mirror those of the president. The race is seen as an early measure of voters’ judgment on Democratic control of all branches of the federal government.

The president stood before an enthusiastic and largely unmasked crowd who gathered around a park pavilion and playground on a warm July night. He emphasized that he shared the same vision as McAuliffe about the need for greater public investments in order to drive economic growth. But Biden was also focused on the political stakes.

“You’re not gonna find anyone, I mean anyone, who knows how to get more done for Virginia than Terry,” Biden said. “Off-year election, the country’s looking. This is a big deal.”

Biden pointed to his management of the pandemic and highlighted the economic recovery during the first six months of his term, providing a window into his party’s messaging as it tries to maintain narrow margins next fall in both houses of Congress. He also highlighted the relative popularity of his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill and called for action on his infrastructure plan, much as he has done in official visits to congressional districts expected to see close races next year.

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As Herschel Walker eyes Senate run, a turbulent past emerges

ATLANTA (AP) — At first glance, Herschel Walker has a coveted political profile for a potential Senate candidate in Georgia.

He was a football hero at the University of Georgia before his long NFL career. He’s a business owner whose chicken products are distributed across the U.S. And he’s a Black conservative with backing from former President Donald Trump, a longtime friend.

But an Associated Press review of hundreds of pages of public records tied to Walker’s business ventures and his divorce, including many not previously reported, sheds new light on a turbulent personal history that could dog his Senate bid. The documents detail accusations that Walker repeatedly threatened his ex-wife’s life, exaggerated claims of financial success and alarmed business associates with unpredictable behavior.

Walker, now 59, has at times been open about his long struggle with mental illness, writing at length in a 2008 book about being diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, once known as multiple personality disorder. But it’s unclear how he would discuss these events as a candidate.

Walker did not respond to requests for comment. Multiple emails went unanswered, although his executive assistant confirmed they were received. AP also sent emails and left a message with his long-time attorney, who did not respond.

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The Latest: Fans turn up for finish of Olympic road race

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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The ban on fans for the Summer Olympics does not extend past Tokyo, and that means thousands of cycling fans have turned up at Fuji International Speedway to await the finish of the men’s road race.

The facility built in the 1960s but extensively renovated over the years has a grandstand capacity of 22,000 people. And with 50 percent capacity limitations due to COVID-19, that means up to 11,000 will be able to see the finish.

Their eagerness to see the Olympics after a year delay was clear by the way fans turned out early Saturday. They showed up nearly seven hours before riders were expected to reach the finishing circuits, and the layout of the speedway meant they would be spending all that time in the sun on a steamy day two hours southwest of Tokyo.

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Algerian judoka refuses potential Olympic bout with Israeli

TOKYO (AP) — An Algerian judo athlete will be sent home from the Tokyo Olympics after he withdrew from the competition to avoid potentially facing an Israeli opponent.

Fethi Nourine and his coach, Amar Benikhlef, told Algerian media they were withdrawing to avoid a possible second-round matchup with Israel's Tohar Butbul in the men's 73 kg division on Monday. Nourine was drawn to face Sudan’s Mohamed Abdalrasool in the opening round, with the winner facing Butbul, the fifth seed.

The International Judo Federation's executive committee has temporarily suspended Nourine and Benikhlef, who are likely to face sanctions beyond the Olympics, which began Saturday. The Algerian Olympic committee then withdrew both men's accreditation and made plans to send them home.

The IJF said Nourine's position was “in total opposition to the philosophy of the International Judo Federation. The IJF has a strict non-discrimination policy, promoting solidarity as a key principle, reinforced by the values of judo.”

Nourine and Benikhlef attribute their stance to their political support for Palestinians.

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Family of James Brown settles 15-year battle over his estate

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The family of entertainer James Brown has reached a settlement ending a 15-year battle over the late singer’s estate, an attorney involved in the mediation said Friday.

David Black, an attorney representing Brown's estate, confirmed to The Associated Press that the agreement was reached July 9. Details of the settlement were not disclosed.

Legal wrangling over the Godfather of Soul's estate has been ongoing since his death at the age of 73 on Christmas Day 2006.

The performer’s death touched off years of bizarre headlines, beginning with Tomi Rae Hynie — a former partner who claimed to be Brown's wife — being locked out of his 60-acre (24-hectare) estate while photographers captured her sobbing and shaking its iron gates, begging to be let in.

Brown was renowned for hundreds of iconic musical works including hits like “I Feel Good” and “A Man’s World,” and was known around the world for his flashy performances and dynamic stage presence. But years of drug problems and financial mismanagement caused his estate to dwindle.

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Search for bodies concludes at Florida condo collapse site

MIAMI (AP) — Firefighters on Friday declared the end of their search for bodies at the site of a collapsed Florida condo building, concluding a month of painstaking work removing layers of dangerous debris that were once piled several stories high.

The June 24 collapse at the oceanside Champlain Towers South killed 97 people, with at least one more missing person yet to be identified. The site has been mostly swept flat and the rubble moved to a Miami warehouse. Although forensic scientists are still at work, including examining the debris at the warehouse, there are no more bodies to be found where the building once stood.

Except during the early hours after the collapse, survivors never emerged. Search teams spent weeks battling the hazards of the rubble, including an unstable portion of the building that teetered above, a recurring fire and Florida’s stifling summer heat and thunderstorms. They went through more than 14,000 tons (13,000 metric tonnes) of broken concrete and rebar, often working boulder by boulder, rock by rock, before finally declaring the mission complete.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue’s urban search-and-rescue team pulled away from the site Friday in a convoy of firetrucks and other vehicles, slowly driving to their headquarters for a news conference to announce that the search was officially over.

At a ceremony, Fire Chief Alan Cominsky saluted the firefighters who worked 12-hour shifts while camping out at the site.

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LeVar Burton: 'Jeopardy!' host gig began 'scary,' ended fun

LOS ANGELES (AP) — LeVar Burton’s quest to become the new host of “Jeopardy!” has been a confident, upbeat effort by the actor and those who rooted him on with a petition drive.

But when the day came to tape the first of his week's share of episodes as one of a succession of guest hosts, the show's pace and the challenge of following in Alex Trebek's much-admired footsteps threw Burton off stride.

It made for a rough start to the five back-to-back tapings that begin airing Monday, said the veteran actor known for “Roots," “Star Trek: The Next Generation" and ”Reading Rainbow." He turned for advice to wife Stephanie Cozart Burton, who as his makeup artist was on hand to play coach during a production break.

“Being at home, it feels like a really relaxed half-hour, but it's not relaxed at all,” he said. “You can't let your focus drop for a nanosecond.”

Burton has been watching and assessing the other guest hosts — in other words, his competition for the position that the Canadian-born Trebek held from 1984 to shortly before his November 2020 death from cancer at age 80. Art Fleming was the quiz's show's original and only other host, in the 1960s and '70s.

News from © The Associated Press, 2021
The Associated Press

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