COVID-19, shootings: Is mass death now tolerated in America?
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — After mass shootings killed and wounded people grocery shopping, going to church and simply living their lives last weekend, the nation marked a milestone of 1 million deaths from COVID-19. The number, once unthinkable, is now an irreversible reality in the United States — just like the persistent reality of gun violence that kills tens of thousands of people every year.
Americans have always tolerated high rates of death and suffering — among certain segments of society. But the sheer numbers of deaths from preventable causes, and the apparent acceptance that no policy change is on the horizon, raises the question: Has mass death become accepted in America?
“I think the evidence is unmistakable and quite clear. We will tolerate an enormous amount of carnage, suffering and death in the U.S., because we have over the past two years. We have over our history,” says Gregg Gonsalves, an epidemiologist and professor at Yale who, before that, was a leading member of the AIDS advocacy group ACT UP.
“If I thought the AIDS epidemic was bad, the American response to COVID-19 has sort of ... it’s a form of the American grotesque, right?” Gonsalves says. “Really — a million people are dead? And you’re going to talk to me about your need to get back to normal, when for the most part most of us have been living pretty reasonable lives for the past six months?”
Certain communities have always borne the brunt of higher death rates in the United States. There are profound racial and class inequalities in the United States, and our tolerance of death is partly based on who is at risk, says Elizabeth Wrigley-Field, a sociology professor at the University of Minnesota who studies mortality.
Russia's claim of Mariupol's capture fuels concern for POWs
POKROVSK, Ukraine (AP) — Concern mounted Saturday over Ukrainian fighters who became prisoners at the end of Russia's brutal three-month siege of Mariupol, as a Moscow-backed separatist leader vowed they would face tribunals.
Russia claimed full control of the Azovstal steel plant, which for weeks was the last holdout in Mariupol and a symbol of Ukrainian tenacity in the strategic port city, now in ruins with more than 20,000 residents feared dead. Its seizure delivers Russian President Vladimir Putin a badly wanted victory in the war he began in February.
As the West rallies behind Ukraine, Polish President Andrzej Duda arrived in Ukraine on an unannounced visit and will address the country's parliament on Sunday, his office said.
Poland, which has welcomed millions of Ukrainian refugees since the start of the war, is a strong supporter of Ukraine's desire to join the European Union. With Russia blocking Ukraine's sea ports, Poland has become a major gateway for Western humanitarian aid and weapons going into Ukraine and has been helping Ukraine get its grain and other agricultural products to world markets.
The Russian Defense Ministry released video of Ukrainian soldiers being detained after announcing that its forces had removed the last holdouts from the Mariupol plant’s extensive underground tunnels. Denis Pushilin, the pro-Kremlin head of an area of eastern Ukraine controlled by Moscow-backed separatists, claimed that 2,439 people were in custody. He said on Russian state TV that the figure includes some foreign nationals, though he did not provide details.
Herschel Walker's ties to veterans program face scrutiny
COLUMBUS, Ga. (AP) — Herschel Walker, the football legend and leading Republican Senate candidate in Georgia, often boasts of his work helping service members and veterans struggling with mental health.
In interviews and campaign appearances, the former Dallas Cowboy and Heisman Trophy winner takes credit for founding, co-founding and sometimes operating a program called Patriot Support. The program, he says, has taken him to military bases all over the world.
“About 15 years ago, I started a program called Patriot Support,” Walker said in an interview with conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt last October. “People need to know I started a military program, a military program that treats (thousands) of soldiers a year,” he told Savannah TV station WTGS in February.
But corporate documents, court records and Senate disclosures reviewed by The Associated Press tell a more complicated story. Together they present a portrait of a celebrity spokesman who overstated his role in a for-profit program that is alleged to have preyed upon veterans and service members while defrauding the government.
The revelation marks the latest example of a far more complex reality that lies beneath the carefully curated autobiography Walker has pitched to voters.
Australia's next prime minister came from humble beginnings
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia's Prime Minister-elect Anthony Albanese is a politician molded by his humble start to life as the only child of a single mother who raised him on a pension in gritty inner-Sydney suburbia.
He is also a hero of multicultural Australia, describing himself as the only candidate with a “non-Anglo Celtic name” to run for prime minister in the 121 years that the office has existed.
His friends pronounce his name “Alban-ez,” like bolognese. But having been repeatedly corrected over the years by Italians, the nationality of his absent father, he introduces himself and is widely known as “Alban-easy.”
He shared the stage during his victory speech with Senator Penny Wong, who will become foreign minister. Her father was Malaysian-Chinese and her mother European Australian.
“I think it’s good. Someone with a non-Anglo Celtic surname is the leader in the House of Representatives and ... someone with a surname like Wong is the leader of the government in the Senate,” Albanese said.
Biden highlights Hyundai announcement of $10B US investment
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — President Joe Biden tended to both business and security interests Sunday as he wraps up a three-day visit to South Korea, showcasing Hyundai’s pledge to invest at least $10 billion in electric vehicles and related technologies in the United States.
Before visiting U.S. and South Korean troops monitoring the rapidly evolving North Korean nuclear threat, Biden said the U.S. was ready for any provocation that Kim Jong Un might deliver.
Hyundai's investment includes $5.5 billion for an electric vehicle and battery factory in Georgia.
Appearing with Biden, Hyundai CEO Euisun Chung said Sunday his company would spend another $5 billion on artificial intelligence for autonomous vehicles and other technologies.
“Electric vehicles are good for our climate goals, but they’re also good for jobs," Biden said. "And they’re good for business.”
Live updates | Woods withdraws from final round of PGA
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — The Latest on the third round of the PGA Championship (all times local):
There will be no Sunday red for Tiger Woods in the PGA Championship.
The PGA of America said Woods has withdrawn. Woods had a career-high 79 in the third round Saturday at Southern Hills. He limped his way around in the cold and wind, at one point making five straight bogeys.
With public camping a felony, Tennessee homeless seek refuge
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Miranda Atnip lost her home during the coronavirus pandemic after her boyfriend moved out and she fell behind on bills. Living in a car, the 34-year-old worries every day about getting money for food, finding somewhere to shower, and saving up enough money for an apartment where her three children can live with her again.
Now she has a new worry: Tennessee is about to become the first U.S. state to make it a felony to camp on local public property such as parks.
“Honestly, it's going to be hard," Atnip said of the law, which takes effect July 1. “I don't know where else to go."
Tennessee already made it a felony in 2020 to camp on most state-owned property. In pushing the expansion, Sen. Paul Bailey noted that no one has been convicted under that law and said he doesn't expect this one to be enforced much, either. Neither does Luke Eldridge, a man who has worked with homeless people in the city of Cookeville and supports Bailey’s plan — in part because he hopes it will spur people who care about the homeless to work with him on long-term solutions.
The law requires that violators receive at least 24 hours notice before an arrest. The felony charge is punishable by up to six years in prison and the loss of voting rights.
On Venezuelan roads, old cars prevail, break down everywhere
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — A 1983 Chevrolet C-10 pickup is the workhorse of Argenis Ron’s party equipment rental business. He uses it to haul chairs, tents and tables to gatherings all across Venezuela's sprawling capital.
The once-white paint is slightly yellowish and the body shows a bit of rust, a few dings. The odometer was already broken when he bought it 12 years ago.
And with business picking up as the pandemic seems to slow, he's putting in more miles — and making more trips to mechanics, including a recent visit to investigate a snoring-like noise emanating from the left rear wheel.
“When the mechanics ask for parts — the truck asks you — you have to buy them,” Ron said. “One cannot refuse because the truck is a resource to make money.”
He's philosophical about the need to keep repairing his vintage truck: “It’s not like the current cars that have a computer and have a lot of things at the system level. I say that (old trucks) are trustworthy and more reliable because they use nothing but gasoline and water.”
Early Voting holds off Epicenter to win Preakness Stakes
BALTIMORE (AP) — Maybe extra rest isn't such a bad thing for a racehorse after all.
In the Preakness Stakes that was run without the Kentucky Derby winner because Rich Strike's owner felt he needed more time off after his 80-1 upset, Early Voting validated a gutsy decision to skip the Derby and aim for the second leg of the Triple Crown.
Early Voting held off hard-charging favorite Epicenter to win the Preakness on Saturday, rewarding trainer Chad Brown and owner Seth Klarman for their patience. Early Voting stalked the leaders for much of the race before moving into first around the final turn and finished 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Epicenter, who was second just like in the Derby.
“We thought he needed a little more seasoning, the extra rest would help him,” Klarman said. “He was pretty lightly raced — only three races before today. And as it turned out, that was the right call. We wanted to do right by the horse, and we’re so glad we waited.”
The initial plan in the Preakness was for Early Voting not to wait and for jockey Jose Ortiz to take him to the lead. That looked especially important on a day when the dirt track at Pimlico Race Course was favoring speed and making it hard for horses to come from behind down the stretch.
Buffalo shooting victim laid to rest; city marks 1 week
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Roberta Drury, a 32-year-old woman who was the youngest of the 10 Black people killed at a Buffalo supermarket, was remembered at her funeral Saturday for "that smile that could light up a room,” as the city marked one week since the shooting with sorrowful moments of silence.
“Robbie,” as she was called, grew up in the Syracuse area and moved to Buffalo a decade ago to help tend to her brother in his fight against leukemia. She was shot to death May 14 on a trip to buy groceries at the Tops Friendly Market targeted by the white gunman.
“There are no words to fully express the depth and breadth of this tragedy,” Friar Nicholas Spano, parochial vicar of Assumption Church, said during the funeral service in Syracuse, not far from where Drury grew up in Cicero.
“Last Saturday, May 14, our corner of the world was changed forever,” he said. “Lives ended. Dreams shattered and our state was plunged into mourning.”
Drury's family wrote in her obituary that she “couldn’t walk a few steps without meeting a new friend.”
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