Defense for some Capitol rioters: election misinformation
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Falsehoods about the election helped bring insurrectionists to the Capitol on Jan. 6, and now some who are facing criminal charges for their actions during the riot hope their gullibility might save them or at least engender some sympathy.
Lawyers for at least three defendants charged in connection with the violent siege tell The Associated Press that they will blame election misinformation and conspiracy theories, much of it pushed by then-President Donald Trump, for misleading their clients. The attorneys say those who spread that misinformation bear as much responsibility for the violence as do those who participated in the actual breach of the Capitol.
“I kind of sound like an idiot now saying it, but my faith was in him,” defendant Anthony Antonio said, speaking of Trump. Antonio said he wasn’t interested in politics before pandemic boredom led him to conservative cable news and right-wing social media. “I think they did a great job of convincing people.”
After Joe Biden’s victory in last year’s presidential election, Trump and his allies repeatedly claimed that the race was stolen, even though the claims have been repeatedly debunked by officials from both parties, outside experts and courts in several states and Trump’s own attorney general. In many cases, the baseless claims about vote dumps, ballot fraud and corrupt election officials were amplified on social media, building Trump’s campaign to undermine faith in the election that began long before November.
The tide of misinformation continues to spread, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson wrote Wednesday in a decision denying the release of a man accused of threatening to kill U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Black fear of Tulsa police lingers 100 years after massacre
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — There’s been undeniable progress in the relationship between the Tulsa police and the city’s Black community in the past 100 years. Then again, it’s hard to imagine it could have gotten worse.
Complaints about police bias and a lack of enough minority officers remain. But the police chief is now a Black man from north Tulsa, the area that includes what once was America’s wealthiest Black business district.
Back in 1921 — decades before the civil rights movement — even the thought of a Black police chief would have been inconceivable. That year, Greenwood — the Black north Tulsa neighborhood that includes the area known as Black Wall Street — was burned to the ground with assistance from the virtually all-white Tulsa Police Department. Sparked by accusations that a 19-year-old Black man had assaulted a 17-year-old white girl in an elevator, the Tulsa Race Massacre left as many as 300 Black people dead and thousands of Black residents displaced. Thirty-five square blocks were torched and damages spiraled into the millions.
Tulsa’s police department deputized white mobs and provided them with arms. Numerous reports describe white men with badges setting fires and shooting Black people as part of the Greenwood invasion. According to an Associated Press article from the time, Black people who were driven from their homes by the hundreds shouted, “Don’t shoot!” as they rushed through the flames.
After the massacre went largely ignored for decades, awareness has increased in recent years. Police Chief Chuck Jordan stood in Greenwood in 2013 and apologized for the department’s role.
How Tulsa massacre spent most of last century unremembered
When the smoke cleared in June 1921, the toll from the massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was catastrophic — scores of lives lost, homes and businesses burned to the ground, a thriving Black community gutted by a white mob.
The nightmare cried out for attention, as something to be investigated and memorialized, with speeches and statues and anniversary commemorations.
But the horror and violence visited upon Tulsa’s Black community didn’t become part of the American story. Instead, it was pushed down, unremembered and untaught until efforts decades later started bringing it into the light. And even this year, with the 100th anniversary of the massacre being recognized, it’s still an unfamiliar history to many — something historians say has broader repercussions.
“The consequences of that is a sort of a lie that we tell ourselves collectively about who we are as a society, who we have been historically, that’s set some of these things up as aberrations, as exceptions of what we understand society to be rather than endemic or intrinsic parts of American history,” said Joshua Guild, an associate professor of history and African American studies at Princeton University.
Indeed, U.S. history is filled with dark events — often involving racism and racial violence — that haven’t been made part of the national fabric. Many involved Black Americans, of which the Tulsa Race Massacre is considered among the most egregious in its absolute destruction, but other racial and ethnic communities have been impacted as well.
More states ease lingering virus rules as vaccine rates rise
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Just in time for Memorial Day weekend, more U.S. cities and states are shrugging off lingering COVID-19 restrictions as vaccination rates rise and the number of infections falls.
Massachusetts lifted a mask requirement Saturday, a day after New Jersey dropped its mandate. In New York City and Chicago, officials reopened public beaches, though winds and cool temperatures kept crowds away.
“Welcome back, Chicago,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a video announcement. “The lakefront is open.”
Chicago’s Navy Pier also reopened retail stores and restaurants, carnival rides, and tour boats and cruises after the pandemic forced monthslong closures at the busy tourist destination.
It’s one more sign of progress that reflects increasingly positive health data. On Saturday, Illinois’ Department of Public Health reported 802 new confirmed and probable infections, the second-lowest one-day total in the last six months.
Texas GOP puts final touches on sweeping voting restrictions
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas Republicans dug in Saturday for a final weekend vote on some of the most restrictive new voting laws in the U.S., putting the last touches on a sweeping bill that would eliminate drive-thru voting, empower partisan poll watchers and limit voting on Sundays, when many Black churchgoers head to the polls.
The changes would need to be approved before midnight on Sunday, when the GOP-controlled Legislature wraps up a session dominated by Republicans muscling through staunchly conservative measures pertaining to guns, abortion and how race can be taught in public schools.
But none have drawn backlash like Senate Bill 7, which Republicans packed with a raft of new voting restrictions that would alter how the country’s biggest red state conducts elections. Democrats have virtually no path to stop it from passing, thereby putting Republicans on the brink of a major victory in their nationwide campaign to impose new voting restrictions driven by former President Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has said he will sign the measure, which Democrats have said they would challenge in court.
President Joe Biden released a statement calling the Texas bill’s final form “wrong and un-American.”
More than 200 bodies found at Indigenous school in Canada
KAMLOOPS, British Columbia (AP) — The remains of 215 children, some as young as 3 years old, have been found buried on the site of what was once Canada’s largest Indigenous residential school — one of the institutions that held children taken from families across the nation.
Chief Rosanne Casimir of the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation said in a news release that the remains were confirmed last weekend with the help of ground-penetrating radar.
More bodies may be found because there are more areas to search on the school grounds, Casimir said Friday.
In an earlier release, she called the discovery an “unthinkable loss that was spoken about but never documented at the Kamloops Indian Residential School.”
From the 19th century until the 1970s, more than 150,000 First Nations children were required to attend state-funded Christian schools as part of a program to assimilate them into Canadian society. They were forced to convert to Christianity and not allowed to speak their native languages. Many were beaten and verbally abused, and up to 6,000 are said to have died.
Vietnam finds new virus variant, hybrid of India, UK strains
HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnam has discovered a new coronavirus variant that’s a hybrid of strains first found in India and the U.K., the Vietnamese health minister said Saturday.
Nguyen Thanh Long said scientists examined the genetic makeup of the virus that had infected some recent patients, and found the new version of the virus. He said lab tests suggested it might spread more easily than other versions of the virus.
Viruses often develop small genetic changes as they reproduce, and new variants of the coronavirus have been seen almost since it was first detected in China in late 2019. The World Health Organization has listed four global “variants of concern” – the two first found in the U.K. and India, plus ones identified in South Africa and Brazil.
Long says the new variant could be responsible for a recent surge in Vietnam, which has spread to 30 of the country’s 63 municipalities and provinces.
Vietnam was initially a standout success in battling the virus — in early May, it had recorded just over 3,100 confirmed cases and 35 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Egypt bets on ancient finds to pull tourism out of pandemic
CAIRO (AP) — Workers dig and ferry wheelbarrows laden with sand to open a new shaft at a bustling archaeological site outside of Cairo, while a handful of Egyptian archaeologists supervise from garden chairs. The dig is at the foot of the Step Pyramid of Djoser, arguably the world’s oldest pyramid, and is one of many recent excavations that are yielding troves of ancient artifacts from the country’s largest archaeological site.
As some European countries re-open to international tourists, Egypt has already been trying for months to attract them to its archaeological sites and museums. Officials are betting that the new ancient discoveries will set it apart on the mid- and post-pandemic tourism market. They need visitors to come back in force to inject cash into the tourism industry, a pillar of the economy.
But like countries elsewhere, Egypt continues to battle the coronavirus, and is struggling to get its people vaccinated. The country has, up until now, received only 5 million vaccines for its population of 100 million people, according to its Health Ministry. In early May, the government announced that 1 million people had been vaccinated, though that number is believed to be higher now.
In the meantime, authorities have kept the publicity machine running, focused on the new discoveries.
In November, archaeologists announced the discovery of at least 100 ancient coffins dating back to the Pharaonic Late Period and Greco-Ptolemaic era, along with 40 gilded statues found 2,500 years after they were first buried. That came a month after the discovery of 57 other coffins at the same site, the necropolis of Saqqara that includes the step pyramid.
Gavin MacLeod, ‘Love Boat’ captain, dies at 90
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Gavin MacLeod, the veteran supporting actor who achieved fame as sardonic TV news writer Murray Slaughter on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and stardom playing cheerful Capt. Stubing on “The Love Boat,” has died. He was 90.
MacLeod died early Saturday at his home in Palm Desert, California, said Stephanie Steele Zalin, his stepdaughter. She attributed his death to his age, saying he had been well until very recently.
“He had one of the most amazing, fun blasts of a life of anybody I know. He enjoyed every minute of it,” Steele Zalin said. “I don’t even think in his wildest dreams he dreamt of the life that he ended up having and creating.”
She called him the “best, sweetest, purest guy.”
Ed Asner, who played opposite MacLeod on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” said on Twitter that “my heart is broken. Gavin was my brother, my partner in crime (and food) and my comic conspirator.”
‘Hooked on a Feeling’ singer B.J. Thomas dies at 78
B.J. Thomas, the Grammy-winning singer who enjoyed success on the pop, country and gospel charts with such hits as “I Just Can’t Help Believing,” “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” and “Hooked on a Feeling,” has died. He was 78.
Thomas, who announced in March that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer, died from complications of the disease Saturday at his home in Arlington, Texas, his publicist Jeremy Westby said in a statement.
A Hugo, Oklahoma-native who grew up in Houston, Billy Joe Thomas broke through in 1966 with a gospel-styled cover of Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” and went on to sell millions of records and have dozens of hits across genres. He reached No. 1 with pop, adult contemporary and country listeners in 1976 with ″(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song.” The same year, his “Home Where I Belong” became one of the first gospel albums to be certified platinum for selling more than 1 million copies.
Dionne Warwick, who duetted with Thomas, sent out a tweet Saturday with her condolences.
“My sincere condolences to the family of one of my favorite duet partners, BJ Thomas. I will miss him as I know so many others will as well. Rest In Peace my friend,” she said.
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