AP News in Brief at 12:04 a.m. EDT

10 dead in Buffalo supermarket attack police call hate crime

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — A white 18-year-old wearing military gear and livestreaming with a helmet camera opened fire with a rifle at a supermarket in Buffalo, killing 10 people and wounding three others Saturday in what authorities described as “racially motived violent extremism.”

Police said he shot 11 Black and two white victims before surrendering to authorities in a rampage he broadcast live on the streaming platform Twitch.

Later, he appeared before a judge in a paper medical gown and was arraigned on a murder charge.

“It is my sincere hope that this individual, this white supremacist who just perpetrated a hate crime on an innocent community, will spend the rest of his days behind bars. And heaven help him in the next world as well,” said Gov. Kathy Hochul, speaking near the scene of the attack.

The massacre sent shockwaves through an unsettled nation gripped with racial tensions, gun violence and a spate of hate crimes. In the day prior to the shooting, Dallas police said they were investigating a series of shootings in Koreatown as hate crimes. The Buffalo attack came just one month after another mass shooting on a Brooklyn subway train wounded 10 people.

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Ukraine: Russians withdraw from around Kharkiv, batter east

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian troops were withdrawing from around Ukraine’s second-largest city after bombarding it for weeks, the Ukrainian military said Saturday, as Kyiv and Moscow’s forces engaged in a grinding battle for the country’s eastern industrial heartland.

Ukraine’s military said the Russian forces were pulling back from the northeastern city of Kharkiv and focusing on guarding supply routes, while launching mortar, artillery and airstrikes in the eastern province of Donetsk in order to “deplete Ukrainian forces and destroy fortifications.”

Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said Ukraine was “entering a new — long-term — phase of the war.”

In a show of support, a U.S. Senate delegation led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday in Kyiv. A video posted on Zelenskyy’s Telegram account showed McConnell, who represents the state of Kentucky, and fellow Republican senators Susan Collins of Maine, John Barrasso of Wyoming and John Cornyn of Texas greeting him.

Their trip came after Kentucky’s other senator, Rand Paul, blocked until next week Senate approval of an additional $40 billion to help Ukraine and its allies withstand Russia’s 3-month-old invasion. In a statement after leaving Ukraine, McConnell said the United States “stands squarely behind Ukraine and will sustain our support until Ukraine wins this war.”

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Abortion rights backers rally in anger over post-Roe future

WASHINGTON (AP) — Abortion rights supporters demonstrating at hundreds of marches and rallies Saturday expressed their outrage that the Supreme Court appears prepared to scrap the constitutional right to abortion that has endured for nearly a half-century and their fear about what that could mean for women’s reproductive choices.

Incensed after a leaked draft opinion suggested the court’s conservative majority would overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, activists spoke of the need to mobilize quickly because Republican-led states are poised to enact tighter restrictions.

In the nation’s capital, thousands gathered in drizzly weather at the Washington Monument to listen to fiery speeches before marching to the Supreme Court, which was surrounded by two layers of security fences.

The mood was one of anger and defiance, three days after the Senate failed to muster enough votes to codify Roe v. Wade.

“I can’t believe that at my age, I’m still having to protest over this,” said Samantha Rivers, a 64-year-old federal government employee who is preparing for a state-by-state battle over abortion rights.

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EXPLAINER: Why stakes are high in trial tied to Russia probe

WASHINGTON (AP) — The first trial resulting from special counsel John Durham’s investigation of the early days of the Trump-Russia probe hardly seems an explosive affair. It’s about a single false statement that a cybersecurity lawyer with ties to the Hillary Clinton campaign is alleged to have made to the FBI in 2016.

Yet the stakes are high.

The verdict in the case of lawyer Michael Sussmann will help shape the fate and legacy of Durham’s three-year probe. An acquittal would hasten questions about the purpose of the inquiry and the cost to taxpayers. A guilty verdict would energize supporters of Donald Trump who have long looked to Durham to expose what they see as biased mistreatment of the former president.

The trial, beginning Monday with jury selection in Washington’s federal court, will not focus on Trump’s claims of government misconduct during the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election in the United States. Jurors will not be asked to decide whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Kremlin to tip the outcome of the race.

But the trial will rewind the clock to a frenetic stretch in recent American history when the FBI was scrambling to investigate ties between Trump and Russia — and the rival Clinton campaign was eager to push its own suspicions.

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Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra wins Eurovision amid war

TURIN, Italy (AP) — Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra won the Eurovision Song Contest in the early hours of Sunday in a clear show of popular support for the war-ravaged nation that went beyond music.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the victory, Ukraine’s third since its 2003 Eurovision debut, and said “we will do our best” to host next year’s contest in the hotly contested port city of Mariupol. He underlined “Ukrainian Mariupol,” adding: “free, peaceful, rebuilt!”

“I am sure our victorious chord in the battle with the enemy is not far off,” Zelenskyy said in a post on Telegram messaging app.

Kalush Orchestra’s front man, Oleh Psiuk, took advantage of the enormous global audience, last year numbering more than 180 million, to make impassioned plea to free fighters still trapped beneath a sprawling steel plant in Mariupol following their performance.

“Help Azovstal, right now,″ Psiuk implored from beneath a bright bucket hat that has become the band’s trademark among fans.

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North Korea reports 15 more suspected COVID-19 deaths

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea has confirmed 15 more deaths and hundreds of thousands of additional patients with fevers as it mobilizes more than a million health and other workers to try to suppress the country’s first COVID-19 outbreak, state media reported Sunday.

After maintaining a widely disputed claim to be coronavirus-free for more than two years, North Korea announced Thursday that it had found its first COVID-19 patients since the pandemic began.

It has said a fever has spread across the country “explosively” since late April but hasn’t disclosed exactly how many COVID-19 cases it has found. Some experts say North Korea lacks the diagnostic kits needed to test a large number of suspected COVID-19 patients.

The additional deaths reported Sunday took the country’s reported fever-related fatalities to 42. The official Korean Central News Agency also reported that another 296,180 people with fevers had been tallied, taking the reported total to 820,620.

The outbreak has triggered concern about a humanitarian crisis in North Korea because most of the country’s 26 million people are believed to be unvaccinated against the coronavirus and its public health care system has been in shambles for decades. Some experts say North Korea might suffer huge fatalities if it doesn’t immediately receive outside shipments of vaccines, medicines and other medical supplies.

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‘Reprehensible’: Oz condemns GOP opponent’s tweet on Islam

CARLISLE, Pa. (AP) — Republican Senate hopeful Mehmet Oz is stepping up his criticism of far-right candidates in Pennsylvania who are gaining traction ahead of Tuesday’s primary election.

After spending much of the campaign steering clear of fellow Republican Senate contender Kathy Barnette, Oz on Saturday said she was out of step with the GOP and would be unable to win the general election in November. In an interview, he took issue with a 2015 tweet from Barnette in which she wrote that “Pedophilia is a Cornerstone of Islam.”

Oz, who would be the nation’s first Muslim senator, described the comments as “disqualifying.”

“It’s reprehensible that she would tweet out something that is defamatory to an entire religion,” Oz told The Associated Press. “This state was based on religious freedom. I’m proud as a Pennsylvanian to uphold those founding beliefs that every faith has its merits.”

The Barnette campaign did not respond to a request for comment. Earlier in the week, Barnette told NBC News that she did not make the statement, which was still live on her Twitter feed on Saturday.

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Putin warns Finland NATO membership would harm relations

HELSINKI (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin warned his Finnish counterpart Saturday that relations between the two neighbors could be “negatively affected” if Finland follows through with plans to apply for NATO membership.

The Kremlin’s press service said in a statement that Putin told Sauli Niinisto Finland’s abandonment “of its traditional policy of military neutrality would be an error since there are no threats to Finland’s security.”

“Such a change in the country’s foreign policy could negatively affect Russian-Finnish relations, which had been built in the spirit of good neighborliness and partnership for many years, and were mutually beneficial,” the statement added.

The response came after Niinisto told Putin in a phone conversation that the militarily non-aligned Nordic country, which has a complex history with its huge eastern neighbor, “will decide to apply for NATO membership in the coming days.”

Niinisto’s office said in a statement that the Finnish head of state told Putin how starkly Finland’s security environment had changed after Moscow’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, and pointed to Russia’s demands for Finland to refrain from seeking membership of the 30-nation Western military alliance.

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Clarence Thomas says abortion leak has changed Supreme Court

WASHINGTON (AP) — Justice Clarence Thomas says the Supreme Court has been changed by the shocking leak of a draft opinion earlier this month. The opinion suggests the court is poised to overturn the right to an abortion recognized nearly 50 years ago in Roe v. Wade.

The conservative Thomas, who joined the court in 1991 and has long called for Roe v. Wade to be overturned, described the leak as an unthinkable breach of trust.

“When you lose that trust, especially in the institution that I’m in, it changes the institution fundamentally. You begin to look over your shoulder. It’s like kind of an infidelity that you can explain it, but you can’t undo it,” he said while speaking at a conference Friday evening in Dallas.

The court has said the draft does not represent the final position of any of the court’s members, and Chief Justice John Roberts has ordered an investigation into the leak.

Thomas, a nominee of President George H.W. Bush, said it was beyond “anyone’s imagination” before the May 2 leak of the opinion to Politico that even a line of a draft opinion would be released in advance, much less an entire draft that runs nearly 100 pages. Politico has also reported that in addition to Thomas, conservative justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett had voted with the draft opinion’s author, Samuel Alito, to overrule Roe v. Wade and a 1992 decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, that affirmed Roe’s finding of a constitutional right to abortion.

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As Musk buyout looms, Twitter searches for its soul

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A toxic cesspool. A lifeline. A finger on the world’s pulse. Twitter is all these things and more to its over 229 million users around the world — politicians, journalists, activists, celebrities, weirdos and normies, cat and dog lovers and just about anyone else with an internet connection.

For Elon Musk, its ultimate troll and perhaps most prolific user whose buyout of the company is on increasingly shaky ground, Twitter is a “de facto town square” in dire need of a libertarian makeover.

Whether and how the takeover will happen, at this stage in the game, is anyone’s guess. On Friday, Musk announced that the deal is “on hold,” then tweeted that he was still “committed” to it. On Tuesday, the billionaire Tesla CEO said he’d reverse the platform’s ban of former President Donald Trump if his purchase goes through but also voiced support for a new European Union law aimed at protecting social media users from harmful content. Twitter’s current CEO, meanwhile, fired two top managers on Thursday.

It’s been a messy few weeks and only one thing seems sure: the turmoil will continue for Twitter, inside and outside of the company.

“Twitter at its highest levels has always been chaos. It has always had intrigue and it has always had drama,” says Leslie Miley, a former Twitter engineering manager. “This,” he says, “is in Twitter’s DNA.”

The Associated Press

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