Biden hails House passage of $1.9T virus bill, now to Senate
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is hailing the House passage of the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill he championed. He says that with decisive, fast and bold action, "we can finally get ahead of this virus." The bill passed early Saturday on a near party-line vote and would steer cash to individuals, businesses and states battered by COVID-19. Now it goes to the Senate. Democrats there seem bent on resuscitating a minimum wage push, and other fights could erupt, too. Democrats say the still-faltering economy and still-spreading virus demand action. Republicans call the legislation bloated and partisan.
J&J’s 1-dose shot cleared, giving US 3rd COVID-19 vaccine
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. now has a third vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The Food and Drug Administration on Saturday cleared a Johnson & Johnson shot that works with just one dose instead of two. Health experts have anxiously awaited a one-and-done option to help speed vaccinations. The virus has already killed more than 510,000 people in the U.S. and is mutating in increasingly worrisome ways. The FDA said J&J’s vaccine offers strong protection against what matters most: serious illness, hospitalizations and death. One dose was 85% protective against the most severe COVID-19 illness, in a massive study that spanned three continents.
LA police probe fire, vandalism at Japanese Buddhist temple
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Authorities are investigating a vandalism and fire at a Buddhist temple in the Little Tokyo section of downtown Los Angeles. Surveillance video caught a man jumping the security fences at the Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple on Thursday night, smashing a 12-foot-high glass window with a rock, yanking a pair of metallic lanterns off their concrete bases and lighting two wooden lantern stands on fire. The incident comes amid a rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans. However, police say it was too early to label Thursday's incident a hate crime because the investigation is in the early stages.
ANTI-HATE RALLY-ASIAN AMERICANS
NYC rally condemns attacks on people of Asian descent
NEW YORK (AP) — Hundreds have gathered in New York City to denounce an uptick in attacks on people of Asian descent in the city and across the country. Saturday's rally at Foley Square in lower Manhattan was not far from where an Asian man was critically injured Thursday in what police said was an unprovoked stabbing by another man. Jo-Ann Yoo is executive director of the Asian American Federation. She says the Asian American community is terrified by the attacks. Mayor Bill de Blasio said "Stop Asian hate" is the message that needs to be spread across the country.
Fred Segal, LA celebrity fashion retailer, dead at 87
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Fred Segal, a notable Los Angeles-based celebrity fashion retailer, died Thursday. He was 87. Segal's publicist said Friday that he died from the complications of a stroke at a Santa Monica hospital. His company website counts the Beatles, Diana Ross, Elvis Presley and Farrah Fawcett as his earliest fans. The Los Angeles Times reported that Segal opened his first shop in West Hollywood in 1961, where he sold denim jeans and flannel and velvet ensembles. He is survived by his wife, five children and two stepchildren.
Scores arrested as Myanmar police disperse anti-coup rally
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Police in Myanmar have fired tear gas and water cannons and there were reports of gunfire in the largest city where another anti-coup protest was underway with scores of students and other demonstrators hauled away in police trucks. The violence erupted early Sunday when medical students were marching in Yangon’s streets. Footage showed protesters running away from police as they charged at them, and residents setting up makeshift roadblocks to slow their advance. Nearby, residents were pleading with police to release those they picked up from the street and shoved into police trucks to be taken away. Sounds of gunfire could be heard and what appeared to be smoke grenades thrown into the crowds.
Internet disruption reported in southeast Iran amid unrest
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran’s impoverished southeast has experienced wide disruptions and outages of internet service over the past week, as unrest gripped the remote province after a string of fatal border shootings. Several rights groups reported that authorities shut down the mobile data network in the restive province of Sistan and Baluchestan. The reports of internet interference come as Iranian authorities and semiofficial news agencies increasingly acknowledge the turmoil challenging local authorities in the southeast –– a highly sensitive matter in a country that seeks to repress all hints of domestic political unrest. Protesters with light arms and grenade launchers descended on a checkpoint near Iran’s border with Pakistan earlier this week.
ETHIOPIA-MASSACRE IN HOLY CITY
Amnesty report describes Axum massacre in Ethiopia's Tigray
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — An Amnesty International report says soldiers from Eritrea systematically killed "many hundreds" of people, the large majority men, in a massacre in late November in the Ethiopian city of Axum. The report echoes the findings of an Associated Press story last week and cites more than 40 witnesses. The new report on what might be the deadliest massacre of Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict describes soldiers gunning down civilians as they fled, lining up men and shooting them in the back, and refusing to allow people to collect and bury the dead. Ethiopia said the report was based on scanty information. Eritrea called the AP story "lies."
Virginia lawmakers vote to legalize marijuana in 2024
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia lawmakers have given final approval to a bill that will legalize marijuana for adult recreational use. But legalization will not occur until 2024, when retail sales of the drug would also begin. A compromise bill cleared the state House and Senate on Saturday evening. That makes Virginia the first Southern state to vote to legalize marijuana. It joins 15 other states and the District of Columbia. The legislation now goes to Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, who supports legalization. Several Democrats said they hoped Northam would send the legislation back to them with amendments, including speeding up the date for legalization.
FEDERAL EVICTION MORATORIUM
Justice Dept. to appeal judge’s order on eviction moratorium
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department says it will appeal a judge’s ruling that the federal government’s eviction moratorium is unconstitutional. Prosecutors filed a notice in the case on Saturday evening, saying that it is appealing the matter to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. On Thursday, U.S. District Judge J. Campbell Barker ruled that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevented had overstepped its authority and that the moratorium was unlawful. The CDC eviction moratorium was signed last September by President Donald Trump and then extended by President Joe Biden until March 31.