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4 ex-cops indicted on U.S. civil rights charges in Floyd death

By The Associated Press

Troy Warren #local-all #breaking-all #picks-all

MINNEAPOLIS — A federal grand jury has indicted the four former Minneapolis police officers involved in George Floyd’s arrest and death, accusing them of violating the Black man’s constitutional rights as he was restrained face-down on the pavement and gasping for air, according to indictments unsealed Friday.

The three-count indictment names Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao. Specifically, Chauvin, Thao and Kueng are charged with violating Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure and excessive force. All four officers are charged for their failure to provide Floyd with medical care. Chauvin was also charged in a second indictment, stemming from the arrest and neck restraint of a 14-year-old boy in 2017.

Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Kueng appeared via videoconference in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis. Chauvin was not part of the court appearance.

Chauvin was convicted last month on state charges of murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death and is in Minnesota’s only maximum-security prison as he awaits sentencing. The other three former officers face a state trial in August, and they are free on bond. They were allowed to remain free after Friday’s federal court appearance.

Floyd, 46, died May 25 after Chauvin pinned him to the ground with a knee on his neck, even as Floyd, who was handcuffed, repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe. Kueng and Lane also helped restrain Floyd — state prosecutors have said Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back and Lane held down Floyd’s legs. State prosecutors say Thao held back bystanders and kept them from intervening during the 9 1/2-minute restraint.

Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, argued during his murder trial that Chauvin acted reasonably in the situation and that Floyd died because of underlying health issues and drug use. He has filed a request for a new trial, citing many issues including the judge’s refusal to move the trial due to publicity.

Nelson had no comment on the federal charges Friday. Messages left with attorneys for two of the other officers were not immediately returned, and an attorney for the fourth officer was getting in an elevator and disconnected when reached by The Associated Press.

Floyd’s arrest and death, which a bystander captured on cellphone video, sparked protests nationwide and widespread calls for an end to police brutality and racial inequities.


 

 

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Bank of England expects best year for UK economy since 1941

By PAN PYLAS, Associated Press

Troy Warren #local-all


 

The Bank of England will keep interest rates on hold and has grown more optimistic about the economic recovery in the U.K. this year as a result of the rapid rollout of coronavirus vaccines.

LONDON (AP) — The Bank of England has kept interest rates on hold as it forecast the fastest annual pace of growth for the British economy since early on in World War II, largely as a result of the rapid rollout of coronavirus vaccines.

In a prepared statement Thursday, the nine-member Monetary Policy Committee said it will maintain the bank’s main interest rate at 0.1%. The unanimous and widely anticipated decision means that interest rates will remain at the lowest level in the bank’s 327-year history.

Alongside its decision, the bank’s rate-setting panel said growth is likely to be greater than it previously thought as lockdown easing and vaccines free people to spend savings built up during the pandemic.

“New COVID cases in the United Kingdom have continued to fall, the vaccination programme is proceeding apace, and restrictions on economic activity are easing,” Bank Governor Andrew Bailey told reporters in a conference call.

After suffering its worst recession in over 300 years, the U.K. economy is projected to grow by 7.25% in 2021, up from the bank’s previous forecast of 5%. That would be the greatest economic rebound since 1941 when the U.K. was on a war footing, according to Bank of England statistics that date back to 1700.

Because it anticipates growth will occur earlier than expected, it has revised down its forecasts for next year. It is now expects 5.75% growth in 2022, instead of the 7.25% previously predicted.

If growth returns as quickly as the central bank expects, the British economy will make up all the ground lost during the pandemic by the end of this year. The bank also said economic growth will help reduce the anticipated peak in unemployment from 7.75% to 5.5%.

Bailey cautioned against euphoria, noting that the pandemic will leave a long-term “scarring” effect on the British economy. He also warned of “downside risks” to the economic outlook from a potential resurgence of the virus and the possibility that new variants may be resistant to the vaccine.

“Let’s not get carried away,” Bailey said. “It still means that two years of output growth have been lost to date.”

If pre-pandemic trends persisted, that would equate to around 3% of output lost during the pandemic.

“So there will still be a big gap between where the economy is and where it should be at that point,” said Luke Bartholomew, senior economist at Aberdeen Standard Investments. “It is this gap that will keep monetary policy very accommodative over the next few years even as the economy posts some extremely strong growth numbers, and inflation picks-up somewhat in the short run.”

Though few expect the bank to raise interest rates anytime soon, it signaled Thursday that it is willing to ease its quantitative easing program by slowing the rate of its monthly bond purchases, though the total remains unchanged.

The bank’s brighter outlook comes despite a tough winter period when lockdown restrictions were reimposed in the face of a particularly acute second wave of the virus.

Though the U.K. had Europe’s highest virus-related death toll at more than 127,500, new cases are now at their lowest levels since last summer and the vaccine rollout has been lauded. By Wednesday, around 52% of the British population had received at least one dose of vaccine with around a quarter getting two.


 

 

 

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‘Scared to death’ | Police say armed trainee hijacks South Carolina school bus

By Tim Darnell, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Troy Warren #local-all


 

Trainee allegedly runs off from Fort Jackson, demands transport to another town.

An armed trainee based at a Columbia, South Carolina, Army installation allegedly hijacked a school bus carrying 18 children Thursday morning.

According to Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, the hijacking happened around 7 a.m. near Eagle Park and Percival roads. The Fort Jackson trainee, whose name has not been released, “was dressed in PT clothes and armed with a rifle.” 

“He had run off the post and escaped,” Lott said. Before the alleged hijacking, Lott said the trainee was trying to flag down vehicles on I-77. From there, Lott said the trainee got on a school bus taking children to Forest Lake Elementary and demanded the driver “take him to the next town.”

After driving a few miles, Lott said children on the bus began asking the trainee “lots of questions,” such as whether he was going to hurt the driver or any of them.

“The suspect got a little frustrated, and the bus stopped and that’s when the kids and bus driver got off,” Lott said. The trainee then drove the bus a few more miles, “then got off the bus and left the rifle on the bus,” he said.

Lott said the trainee was arrested near I-77 and Percival Road. None of the children or the bus driver were injured.

“You can just imagine they were scared to death,” Lott said. “I’ll give the bus driver credit, he kept his cool.”

Several nearby schools, according to WIS, were locked down during the incident. Fort Jackson officials told the station they are aware of the incident and are working with local police in the investigation.


 

 

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Peloton recalls treadmills tied to death of child, numerous injuries

By ArLuther Lee, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Troy Warren #local-all

Peloton on Wednesday issued a recall for its popular Tread and Tread+ treadmills after the death of child earlier this year and 70 other incidents where serious injuries occurred, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The recall is voluntary and “consumers who have purchased either treadmill should immediately stop using it and contact Peloton for a full refund or other qualified remedy,” according to the statement from the federal agency charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products.

About 125,000 of the machines are owned throughout the United States, according to some estimates.

Peloton has ceased sales and distribution of the Tread+ and continues to work on additional modifications to the high-energy workout equipment.

Previously the company issued a warning to customers in March to keep children away from the exercise equipment after a child was killed in a “tragic accident” on one of its popular Tread+ fitness machines.

Peloton’s CEO John Foley apologized Wednesday for not taking more decisive action at the time.

“The decision to recall both products was the right thing to do for Peloton’s Members and their families,” he said in a statement. “I want to be clear, Peloton made a mistake in our initial response to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s request that we recall the Tread+. We should have engaged more productively with them from the outset. For that, I apologize.”

In April, the CPSC issued a warning to consumers about reports of children and a pet being pulled, pinned and entrapped under the rear roller of the treadmill, leading to fractures, scrapes and in one case, death.

“I am pleased that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Peloton have come to an agreement to protect users of the Peloton Tread+ and Tread products,” said Robert S. Adler, the acting Chairman of the CPSC. “The agreement, which the Commission voted this morning to accept, requires Peloton to immediately stop selling and distributing both the Tread+ and Tread products in the United States and refund the full purchase price to consumers who wish to return their treadmills.”

Wednesday’s recall was the most decisive action taken since Foley sent an email to users acknowledging the fatality on one of its machines, saying the company was “aware of only a small handful of incidents involving the Tread+ where children have been hurt.”


 

“While we are aware of only a small handful of incidents involving the Tread+ where children have been hurt, each one is devastating to all of us at Peloton, and our hearts go out to the families involved,” Foley wrote at the time.

At the time the company did not elaborate on the circumstances of the accident in order to protect the privacy of the family involved, reports said. Also unclear was where the incident happened.

Foley urged owners of the Tread+ to secure the treadmills from kids and pets and said to remove the safety key that shuts down the machine whenever its not in use.

“We design and build all of our products with safety in mind,” Foley wrote. “But in order to help ensure that you and your family members stay safe with Peloton products in your home, we need your help.”

The Peloton Tread+ costs about $4,295, and is much like a typical motorized treadmill that you would find at a local gym, but it features a large digital screen for users to stream personalized fitness classes.

About 25,000 kids under the age of 10 are injured by exercise equipment each year, according to CNN, which cited a 2014 study from the US National Institutes of Health.


 

 

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3-month-old baby dies after police open fire, kill murder suspect

By ArLuther Lee, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Troy Warren #local-all


 

Infant son caught in crossfire as pursuing deputies shot Louisiana man to death.

A Louisiana man suspected in a double-murder was shot and killed and his 3-month-old baby has died from gunshot wounds after police from several agencies opened fire during a car chase that began Monday in Baton Rouge and ended in Biloxi, Mississippi, according to reports.

La’Mello Parker, who was born January 23, died overnight Tuesday at a Mobile hospital, Harrison County Coroner Brian Switzer told Biloxi news station WLOX.

The infant boy was shot while in the car with his father, Eric Derell Smith, who went on the run Monday following the slayings of two people at his ex-girlfriend’s house in rural East Baton Rouge. Smith died after being shot multiple times by authorities along Interstate 10 just west of the Woolmarket exit in Harrison County, reports said.

“Despite the efforts of medical staff, the child passed away as a result of the injuries sustained,” said Maj. Chris DeBack in a release from Biloxi Police Department. “As stated, the investigation is ongoing at this time. Once a thorough investigation is completed the details will be released to the District Attorney’s Office for review.”

The police pursuit began around 11:30 a.m. when deputies with the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office arrived at a home on Richmond Street in Baker, Louisiana, where someone had earlier called 911.

Inside, they found Christin Parker, 32, and her nephew, Brandon Parker, 26, shot to death, the Biloxi Sun Herald reported.

Smith, 30, was immediately determined a suspect but had already fled the scene in a blue Nissan Versa with his 4-month-old son in tow, reports said. Louisiana authorities immediately informed the public about the killings and the missing child.

Several hours later Smith’s car was spotted heading east on I-10 near Gulfport, Mississippi.

By this time the Mississippi Highway Patrol, Gulfport Police Department and the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office had joined the pursuit, and shut down eastbound lanes of I-10 while making several attempts to stop Smith’s car, which now had two flat tires.

After his car entered Biloxi, Smith tried to cross the 1-10 median to go westbound, but he got stuck in the grass, the Sun Herald reported.

What happened next remains unclear.

The Sun Herald reported that police opened fire after Smith got out of the car but did not say whether Smith had a gun in his hands at the time.

But Biloxi Police Chief John Miller told The Advocate that Smith and officers were involved in a shootout after Smith’s car came to rest in the median, however he could not say whether officers killed Smith or if the suspect killed himself.

Harrison County Coroner Brian Switzer later confirmed that Smith did not die from a self-inflicted wound and that he had been sitting in the driver’s seat when he was struck by gunfire multiple times, killing him.

The infant was also shot and rushed by U.S. Marshals to Merit Health in Biloxi in stable condition, then airlifted to USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital in Mobile, Alabama, where he died Tuesday morning, reports said.

Police officials have not yet revealed how many shots were fired by deputies or what prompted them to shoot.

Biloxi police is reportedly handling the investigation.


 

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Bill, Melinda Gates announce they are ending marriage

By The Associated Press

Troy Warren #local-all

SEATTLE — Bill and Melinda Gates announced Monday that they are divorcing.

The Microsoft co-founder and his wife, who launched the world’s largest charitable foundation, said they would continue to work together at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

In identical tweets, they said they had made the decision to end their marriage of 27 years.

“We have raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives,” they said in a statement. “We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life.”

In her 2019 memoir, “The Moment of Lift,” Melinda Gates wrote about her childhood, life and private struggles as the wife of a public icon and stay-at-home mom with three kids. She won Gates’ heart after meeting at a work dinner, sharing a mutual love of puzzles and beating him at a math game.

The couple’s sprawling Seattle-based foundation is easily the most influential private foundation in the world, with an endowment worth nearly $50 billion. It has focused on global health and development and U.S. education issues since incorporating in 2000.

The couple were married in 1994 in Hawaii. They met after she began working at Microsoft as a product manager in 1987.

Gates was Microsoft’s CEO until 2000 and since then has gradually scaled back his involvement in the company he started with Paul Allen in 1975. He transitioned out of a day-to-day role in Microsoft in 2008 and served as chairman of the board until 2014.


 

 

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10 years ago: Osama bin Laden killed by U.S. troops at Pakistan hideout

By Tim Darnell, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Troy Warren #local-all

Ten years ago, the most wanted man in the world was killed by U.S. troops, bringing a measure of closure to a terrorist attack that changed America forever.

On May 2, 2011, after a decadelong manhunt, members of the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group — Seal Team Six — shot and killed Osama bin Laden inside a private residential compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Special operatives from the Central Intelligence Agency also assisted in the operation to kill the man who masterminded the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that killed more than 3,000 Americans.

After the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. initiated its war on terror, and bin Laden subsequently became the subject of the international manhunt, with the FBI offering a $25 million bounty in its search for him.

Then-President Barack Obama announced bin Laden’s death on national television.

“His demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity,” Obama said from the White House. “Justice has been done.” 

No Americans were injured in the attack.

Earlier this month, the man who served as Obama’s No. 2, current President Joe Biden, said his administration will withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America that were coordinated from that country.

The decision defies a May 1 deadline for full withdrawal under a peace agreement the Trump administration reached with the Taliban last year but leaves no room for additional extensions. A senior administration official called the September date an absolute deadline that won’t be affected by security conditions in the country.

While Biden’s decision keeps U.S. troops in Afghanistan four months longer than initially planned, it sets a firm end to two decades of war that has killed more than 2,200 U.S. troops, wounded 20,000 and has cost as much as $1 trillion. The conflict largely crippled al-Qaida and led to bin Laden’s death.

Biden’s choice of the 9/11 date underscores the reason that American troops were in Afghanistan to begin with — to prevent extremist groups such as al-Qaida from establishing a foothold again that could be used to launch attacks against the U.S.

The administration official said Biden decided that the withdrawal deadline had to be absolute, rather than based on conditions on the ground. “We’re committing today to going to zero” U.S. forces by Sept. 11 and possibly well before, the official said, adding that Biden concluded that a conditioned withdrawal would be “a recipe for staying in Afghanistan forever.”

Defense officials and commanders had argued against the May 1 deadline, saying the U.S. troop withdrawal should be based on security conditions in Afghanistan, including Taliban attacks and violence.

Biden’s new, extended timeline will allow a safe and orderly withdrawal of American troops in coordination with NATO allies, the administration official added.

The president’s decision, however, risks retaliation by the Taliban on U.S. and Afghan forces, possibly escalating the 20-year war. And it will reignite political division over America’s involvement in what many have called the endless war.

An intelligence community report issued Tuesday about global challenges for the next year said prospects for a peace deal in Afghanistan are “low” and warned that “the Taliban is likely to make gains on the battlefield.” If the coalition withdraws support, the report says, the Afghan government will struggle to control the Taliban.


 

 

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Anne Douglas, widow of late actor Kirk Douglas, dies at 102

By The Associated Press

Troy Warren #reviews-all #local-all


 

Widow of Kirk Douglas, stepmother of Michael Douglas has died in California.

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Anne Douglas, the widow of Kirk Douglas and stepmother of Michael Douglas, died Thursday in California. She was 102.

Douglas died at her home in Beverly Hills, according to an obituary provided by spokeswoman Marcia Newberger. No cause of death was given.

Kirk Douglas, the Hollywood legend who starred in “Spartacus,” “Lust for Life” and dozens of other films, died in February 2020 at 103.

He married Anne Buydens in 1954 after they met in Paris while he was filming “Act of Love” and she was doing publicity. They had two sons, Peter, a producer, and Eric, an actor.

“I often wonder what would have happened to me if I hadn’t married Anne. I might not have survived without her business acumen and her finely honed instincts,” Kirk Douglas once said.

In 2017, the couple published “Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter, and a Lifetime in Hollywood.”

“She brought out the best in all of us, especially our father. Dad would never have had the career he did without Anne’s support and partnership.”

– actor Michael Douglas

The Douglas Foundation, which Anne and her husband co-founded, has donated millions to a wide range of institutions, from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to the Motion Picture & Television Fund.

Michael Douglas said his stepmother “will always be in our hearts.”

“She brought out the best in all of us, especially our father. Dad would never have had the career he did without Anne’s support and partnership,” the actor said in a statement.

Kirk Douglas’ first wife and Michael’s mother, Diana Douglas, died in 2015.


 

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NEW: 2 deputies reportedly killed, another shot in North Carolina standoff

By The Associated Press

Troy Warren #local-all


 

Suspect apparently kills himself after being barricaded in home.

BOONE, N.C. — Two North Carolina sheriff’s deputies reportedly were killed in a shooting that prompted a standoff. The suspect apparently killed himself hours later.

Another officer was shot in the head, but their life was saved because they wore a Kevlar helmet, according to reporter Rose Eiklor.

Watauga County Sheriff’s Sgt. Chris Ward and K-9 Deputy Logan Fox were dispatched to a home in Boone at 9:44 a.m. Wednesday after the homeowner and his family didn’t report to work or answer telephone calls, the sheriff’s office said. They were hit by gunfire after entering the home, and while Ward was “extracted from the scene,” Fox remained inside, the statement said.

Morganton Department of Public Safety Maj. Ryan Lander told The News Herald just before 11 p.m. that the suspect appeared to have killed himself, the newspaper reported.

Sheriff Len Hagaman said Ward died at a hospital in Johnson City, Tennessee. Fox also has died, according to reporter Hunter Saenz, citing the sheriff.

“This is an incredibly tragic situation, and our thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved as well as their families and our community,” Hagaman said. “I greatly appreciate the tremendous support we are receiving from law enforcement agencies across the region and the state.”

The sheriff’s office said officers from about 15 law enforcement agencies surrounded the home. Other people living nearby were evacuated or told to shelter in place as the standoff lasted throughout the day and Wednesday night.

Clarence Wilson, 78, was on his porch when deputies pulled up in front of the house across the street. Gunfire erupted after the deputies arrived, Wilson said.

“Then they told me to get back in the house and stay,” he said.

“This is an incredibly tragic situation, and our thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved as well as their families and our community. I greatly appreciate the tremendous support we are receiving from law enforcement agencies across the region and the state.”

– Sheriff Len Hagaman

Wilson said he later saw deputies pull a man from the house.

“I don’t know if it was a deputy or who it was,” he said. “I was just worried about keeping myself safe.”

Wilson said he heard a second barrage of gunfire about noon as the house remained surrounded.

He said it’s a “real quiet neighborhood” with many retirees such as himself.

“We ain’t used to all this,” he said.

Rich Barak of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed to this report.


 

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Navy fires warning shots in new tense encounter with Iran

By The Associated Press

Troy Warren #local-all

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — An American warship fired warning shots when vessels of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard came too close to a patrol in the Persian Gulf, the U.S. Navy said Wednesday.

The Navy released black-and-white footage of the encounter Monday night in international waters of the northern reaches of the Persian Gulf. In it, lights can be seen in the distance and what appears to be a single gunshot can be heard, with a tracer round racing across the top of the water.

Iran did not immediately acknowledge the incident.

The Navy said the USS Firebolt fired the warning shots after three fast-attack Guard vessels came within 68 yards of it and the U.S. Coast Guard patrol boat USCGC Baranoff.

“The U.S. crews issued multiple warnings via bridge-to-bridge radio and loud-hailer devices, but the (Guard) vessels continued their close range maneuvers,” said Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich, a spokeswoman for the Mideast-based 5th Fleet. “The crew of Firebolt then fired warning shots, and the (Guard) vessels moved away to a safe distance from the U.S. vessels.”

She called on the Guard to “operate with due regard for the safety of all vessels as required by international law.”

“U.S. naval forces continue to remain vigilant and are trained to act in a professional manner, while our commanding officers retain the inherent right to act in self-defense,” she said.

The incident Monday marked the second time the Navy accused the Guard of operating in an “unsafe and unprofessional” manner this month alone after tense encounters between the forces had dropped in recent years.

Footage released Tuesday by the Navy showed a ship commanded by the Guard cut in front of the USCGC Monomoy, causing the Coast Guard vessel to come to an abrupt stop with its engine smoking on April 2.

The Guard also did the same with another Coast Guard vessel, the USCGC Wrangell, Rebarich said. Such close passes risk collisions.

The interaction marked the first “unsafe and unprofessional” incident involving the Iranians since April 15, 2020, Rebarich said. However, Iran had largely stopped such incidents in 2018 and nearly in the entirety of 2019, she said.

In 2017, the Navy recorded 14 instances of what it describes as “unsafe and or unprofessional” interactions with Iranians forces. It recorded 35 in 2016, and 23 in 2015.

The incidents at sea almost always involve the Revolutionary Guard, which reports only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Typically, they involve Iranian speedboats armed with deck-mounted machine guns and rocket launchers test-firing weapons or shadowing American aircraft carriers passing through the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which 20 percent of all oil passes.

Some analysts believe the incidents are meant in part to squeeze President Hassan Rouhani’s administration after the 2015 nuclear deal. They include a 2016 incident in which Iranian forces captured and held overnight 10 U.S. sailors who strayed into the Islamic Republic’s territorial waters.

The incident comes as Iran negotiates with world powers in Vienna over Tehran and Washington returning to the 2015 nuclear deal. It also follows a series of incidents across the Mideast attributed to a shadow war between Iran and Israel, which includes attacks on regional shipping and sabotage at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility.