Man rams car into 2 Capitol police; 1 officer, driver killed
WASHINGTON (AP) — A Capitol Police officer was killed Friday after a man rammed a car into two officers at a barricade outside the U.S. Capitol and then emerged wielding a knife. It was the second line-of-duty death this year for a department still struggling to heal from the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Video shows the driver of the crashed car emerging with a knife in his hand and starting to run at the pair of officers, Capitol Police Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman told reporters. Authorities shot the suspect, who died at a hospital.
“I just ask that the public continue to keep U.S. Capitol Police and their families in your prayers," Pittman said. "This has been an extremely difficult time for U.S. Capitol Police after the events of Jan. 6 and now the events that have occurred here today.”
Police identified the slain officer as William “Billy” Evans, an 18-year veteran who was a member of the department's first responders unit.
Two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that investigators initially believed the suspect stabbed one of the officers, but it was later unclear whether the knife actually made contact, in part because the vehicle struck the officers with such force. The officials were not authorized to publicly discuss the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Lieutenant: Kneeling on Floyd's neck 'totally unnecessary'
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Kneeling on George Floyd 's neck while he was handcuffed and lying on his stomach was top-tier, deadly force and “totally unnecessary," the head of the Minneapolis Police Department’s homicide division testified Friday.
“If your knee is on a person’s neck, that can kill him,” said Lt. Richard Zimmerman, adding that when a person is handcuffed behind their back, “your muscles are pulling back ... and if you’re laying on your chest, that’s constricting your breathing even more.”
Zimmerman, who said he is the most senior person on the police force, also testified at Derek Chauvin's murder trial that once Floyd was handcuffed, he saw "no reason for why the officers felt they were in danger — if that’s what they felt — and that’s what they would have to feel to be able to use that kind of force.”
“So in your opinion, should that restraint have stopped once he was handcuffed and thrown on the ground?” prosecutor Matthew Frank asked.
“Absolutely,” replied Zimmerman, who said he has received use-of-force training annually — as all officers do — since joining the city force in 1985.
EXPLAINER: Analyzing use of force by police officers
As former Officer Derek Chauvin stands trial in George Floyd's death, a central question is whether he followed the Minneapolis Police Department's guidelines on the use of force — and used that force reasonably.
The department's longest-tenured officer sharply criticized Chauvin's actions in testimony Friday, at one point calling Chauvin's lengthy restraint of Floyd “totally unnecessary.”
Lt. Richard Zimmerman laid out a range of actions that officers can take in using force. He joined a retired Minneapolis police sergeant who also testified for the prosecution, as well as use-of-force experts interviewed by The Associated Press, in questioning Chauvin's actions.
Zimmerman, who has been on the Minneapolis force since 1985, told jurors that department policy spells out the use-of-force guidelines officers are expected to follow.
Fully vaccinated people can travel safely again, CDC says
NEW YORK (AP) — Add travel to the activities vaccinated Americans can safely enjoy again, according to new U.S. guidance issued Friday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance to say fully vaccinated people can travel within the U.S. without getting tested for the coronavirus or going into quarantine afterward.
Still, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky urged caution and said she would “advocate against general travel overall" given the rising number of infections.
“If you are vaccinated, it is lower risk,” she said.
According to the CDC, more than 100 million people in the U.S. — or about 30% of the population — have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required dose.
MLB All-Star Game yanked from Georgia over voting law
NEW YORK (AP) — Atlanta lost Major League Baseball’s summer All-Star Game on Friday over the league’s objections to sweeping changes to Georgia voting laws that critics — including the CEOs of Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola — have condemned as being too restrictive.
The decision to pull the July 13 game from Atlanta’s Truist Park amounts to the first economic backlash against Georgia for the voting law that Republican Gov. Brian Kemp quickly signed into law March 25.
Kemp has insisted the law’s critics have mischaracterized what it does, yet GOP lawmakers adopted the changes largely in response to false claims of fraud in the 2020 elections by former President Donald Trump and his supporters. The law includes new restrictions on voting by mail and greater legislative control over how elections are run.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred made the decision to move the All-Star events and the amateur draft from Atlanta after discussions with individual players and the Players Alliance, an organization of Black players formed after the death of George Floyd last year, the commissioner said in a statement. A new ballpark for the events wasn’t immediately revealed.
Manfred said he also spoke with the Major League Baseball Players Association, which at the time of the commissioner's decision said it had still not taken a stance.
'First step:' US, Iran to begin indirect nuclear-limit talks
The United States and Iran said Friday they will begin indirect negotiations with intermediaries next week to try to get both countries back into compliance with an accord limiting Iran’s nuclear program, nearly three years after President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal.
The announcement marks one of the first bits of tangible progress in efforts to return both nations to terms of the 2015 accord, which bound Iran to restrictions in return for relief from U.S. and international sanctions.
President Joe Biden came into office saying that getting back into the accord and getting Iran’s nuclear program back under international restrictions was a priority. But Iran and the United States have disagreed over Iran's demands that sanctions be lifted first, and that deadlock has threatened to become an early foreign policy setback for the new U.S. president.
Administration officials played down expectations for next week's talks. State Department spokesperson Ned Price called the resumption of negotiations, scheduled for Tuesday in Vienna, “a healthy step forward.” But Price added, “These remain early days, and we don’t anticipate an immediate breakthrough as there will be difficult discussions ahead.”
“This is a first step,” Biden Iran envoy Rob Malley tweeted. He said diplomats were now “on the right path.”
Few in GOP rush to defend Gaetz amid sex trafficking probe
WASHINGTON (AP) — The political peril for conservative Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz deepened Friday as the often outlandish, Trump-styled provocateur appeared politically isolated amid a federal sex-trafficking investigation.
Few Republicans rushed to offer any kind of support to the three-term Florida congressman known for espousing high-volume attacks — sometimes against those in his own party — during his frequent media appearances. Several GOP lawmakers and top aides who requested anonymity to discuss the sensitive situation said Gaetz's prospects for remaining in Congress were bleak and were complicated in particular by his unpopularity among colleagues in his own party.
Federal prosecutors are examining whether Gaetz and a political ally who is facing sex trafficking allegations may have paid underage girls or offered them gifts in exchange for sex, two people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on Friday.
The scrutiny of Gaetz stemmed from the Justice Department’s probe into the political ally, Joel Greenberg, the people said. Greenberg, a former Florida tax collector, was indicted last year and is accused of a number of federal crimes. He has pleaded not guilty.
Republican congressional leaders have largely been silent about the investigation, which continues.
Train hits truck that slid onto track in Taiwan, killing 51
HUALIEN COUNTY, Taiwan (AP) — A train barreled into an unmanned truck that had rolled onto the track Friday in Taiwan, leaving at least 51 people dead and dozens injured in the island's deadliest rail disaster. Many passengers were crushed, while some survivors were forced to climb out of windows and walk along the train’s roof to safety.
The truck’s emergency brake was not properly engaged, according to the government’s disaster relief center, and the vehicle slid about 20 meters (65 feet) down a hillside. Minutes later, the train’s lead car crashed into it, according to Railways Administration official Weng Hui-ping, just before the train entered a tunnel.
The train, which was carrying more than 400 people, derailed near the Taroko Gorge scenic area on the first day of a long holiday weekend when many people were using Taiwan's extensive rail system, including many families with children. Images from the scene showed the train's cars wedged against the tunnel's walls. Part of the wall of one car had smashed into a seat.
“Many people were crushed under train seats in the collision. And there were other people on top of the seats. So those at the bottom were pressed and crushed and lost consciousness," a passenger with gauze taped to her elbow told Taiwanese broadcaster EBC, which did not show her face or give her name. "At the beginning, they still responded when we called them. But I guess they lost consciousness afterward.”
The National Fire Service confirmed the death toll — which included the train's young, newly married driver and the assistant driver — and said more than 100 people were injured.
Many still hesitate to get vaccine, but reluctance is easing
So few people came for COVID-19 vaccinations in one county in North Carolina that hospitals there now allow anyone 16 or older to get a shot, regardless of where they live. Get a shot, get a free doughnut, the governor said.
Alabama, which has the nation's lowest vaccination rate and a county where only 7% of residents are fully vaccinated, launched a campaign to convince people the shots are safe. Doctors and pastors joined the effort.
On the national level, the Biden administration this week launched a “We Can Do This” campaign to encourage holdouts to get vaccinated against the virus that has claimed over 550,000 lives in the U.S.
The race is on to vaccinate as many people as possible, but a significant number of Americans are so far reluctant to get the shots, even in places where they are plentiful. Twenty-five percent of Americans say they probably or definitely will not get vaccinated, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
They are leery about possible side effects. They tend to be Republican, and they are usually younger and less susceptible to becoming critically ill or dying if they catch COVID-19.
EXPLAINER: What does Georgia's new GOP election law do?
ATLANTA (AP) — The sweeping rewrite of Georgia's election rules represents the first big set of changes since former President Donald Trump's repeated, baseless claims of fraud following his presidential loss to Joe Biden.
Georgia has been at the center of that storm. Trump zeroed in on his loss in the state, even as two Democrats won election to the U.S. Senate in January, flipping control of the chamber to their party. The 98-page measure that was signed into law Thursday by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp makes numerous changes to how elections will be administered, including a new photo ID requirement for voting absentee by mail.
Republican supporters say the law is needed to restore confidence in Georgia’s elections. Democrats say it will restrict voting access, especially for voters of color. Here's a look at some of the top issues:
CAN THE STATE TAKE OVER LOCAL ELECTION OFFICES?
Much of the work administering elections in Georgia is handled by the state’s 159 counties. The law gives the State Election Board new powers to intervene in county election offices and to remove and replace local election officials. That has led to concerns that the Republican-controlled state board could exert more influence over the administration of elections, including the certification of county results.