US draws close to 100M vaccinations as baseball resumes
The U.S. moved closer Thursday toward vaccinating 100 million Americans in a race against an uptick in COVID-19 cases that is fueling fears of another nationwide surge just as the major league baseball season starts and thousands of fans return to stadiums.
More than 99 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and more than 56 million people — 17% of the nation’s population — have been fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A total of 154 million vaccines had been administered as of Thursday. President Joe Biden’s new goal is to give 200 million vaccine doses during his first 100 days in office.
But coronavirus infections are inching up again. The country is averaging 64,000 cases per day this week, up from a daily average of 55,000 infections two weeks ago. Deaths have steadily been averaging about 900 a day.
Officials have warned that they could ban fans from ballparks if the numbers continue to rise. Even before the baseball season got underway Thursday, an opening game was postponed after a player tested positive for the coronavirus.
Daughter: Bystander disrupted attack on Asian American woman
NEW YORK — The daughter of an Asian American woman attacked in New York City said Thursday that a person not seen on surveillance video helped the woman by screaming to distract her assailant while others watched and did nothing to intervene.
Elizabeth Kari, writing on a fundraising webpage she set up for her mother’s care, said the bystander was across the street when a man accosted her 65-year-old mother Vilma Kari, kicked her in the stomach, knocked her to the ground and repeatedly stomped on her face late Monday morning near Times Square.
The person, who has remained anonymous, “yelled and screamed to get the assailant’s attention,” Elizabeth Kari wrote. Fundraising service GoFundMe verified the authenticity of the webpage. The Associated Press has been unable to reach the Karis for comment; a message seeking an interview was left with Elizabeth Kari.
“I want to THANK YOU for stepping in and doing the right thing,” she wrote. “This gesture of action is what we need in our world right now. I hope one day, my mom and I can thank you personally.”
Brandon Elliot, a 38-year-old parolee convicted of killing his mother nearly two decades ago, was charged Wednesday with assault and attempted assault as hate crimes. His lawyers urged the public to “reserve judgment until all the facts are presented in court.”
Duty sergeant: Officers could have ended Floyd restraint
MINNEAPOLIS — A Minneapolis police supervisory sergeant who was on duty the night George Floyd died testified that he believes the officers who restrained Floyd could have ended it after he stopped resisting.
David Pleoger testified Thursday at the trial of since-fired officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged with murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death. He noted that officers are trained to roll people on their side to help with their breathing after they have been restrained in the prone position.
“When Mr. Floyd was no longer offering up any resistance to the officers, they could have ended the restraint,” Pleoger said.
“And that was after he was handcuffed and on the ground and no longer resistant?” prosecutor Steve Schleicher asked.
“Correct,” replied Ploeger, now retired.
Train crashes in east Taiwan, causing injuries, possibly deaths
TAIPEI, Taiwan — A train partially derailed along Taiwan’s east coast Friday, injuring an unknown number of passengers and causing potential fatalities.
The crash occurred near the Toroko Gorge scenic area around 9 a.m. on a public holiday.
Media reported 350 passengers were on board, four of whom were listed as in critical condition.
Reports said a truck fell from a cliff above and landed on the tracks, where a train emerging from a tunnel smashed into it.
A ghostly set of images, and a glimpse of border danger
PHOENIX — A border wall. Smugglers. Small children being dropped into America in the darkness.
A grainy video released Wednesday by authorities — its figures visible only in ghostly white outline, its stark storyline dramatic and obvious — captures, in mere seconds, the dangers for migrant children at the southern U.S. border.
A man straddling a 14-foot barrier near Santa Teresa, New Mexico, lowers a toddler while holding onto one arm. With the child dangling, he lets go. She lands on her feet, then falls forward face first into the dirt. The smuggler does the same thing with a slightly larger child, who falls on her feet and then her bottom. Then the smuggler and another man run off into the desert, deeper into Mexico.
The simple scene caught by a remote camera is an extreme case. But it embodies so much of the saga playing out on the border amid a spike in migrant arrivals, particularly children.
There is implied desperation — a family willing to subject their children to such risks in hopes of changing their future.
From wire sources
Ancient coins may solve mystery of murderous 1600s pirate
WARWICK, R.I. — A handful of coins unearthed from a pick-your-own-fruit orchard in rural Rhode Island and other random corners of New England may help solve one of the planet’s oldest cold cases.
The villain in this tale: a murderous English pirate who became the world’s most-wanted criminal after plundering a ship carrying Muslim pilgrims home to India from Mecca, then eluded capture by posing as a slave trader.
“It’s a new history of a nearly perfect crime,” said Jim Bailey, an amateur historian and metal detectorist who found the first intact 17th-century Arabian coin in a meadow in Middletown.
That ancient pocket change — among the oldest ever found in North America — could explain how pirate Capt. Henry Every vanished into the wind.
On Sept. 7, 1695, the pirate ship Fancy, commanded by Every, ambushed and captured the Ganj-i-Sawai, a royal vessel owned by Indian emperor Aurangzeb, then one of the world’s most powerful men. Aboard were not only the worshipers returning from their pilgrimage, but tens of millions of dollars’ worth of gold and silver.
With King Kong, a little swagger returns to the box office
NEW YORK — Once again, mayhem and mass destruction is back at the box office. It’s almost like old times.
“Godzilla vs. Kong,” one of the few tentpoles to dare release during COVID times, is poised this weekend to set a new high in ticket sales during the pandemic. It won’t be the kind of blockbuster business such a big-budget release would typically manage, but experts forecast a launch of at least $25 million.
Opening-day ticket sales on Wednesday for “Godzilla vs. Kong” totaled $9.6 million, Warner Bros. said Thursday — a single-day pandemic record and more than most 2020-2021 opening weekend hauls. Last weekend, the monster mash pulled in an impressive $123.1 million internationally. In China, where moviegoing is close to pre-pandemic levels, the movie made about $70 million, double the debut of 2014’s “Godzilla.”
For the first time in a long time, there’s the faint hint of a hit at the box office.
“It’s a good omen that the tastes of the consumer have not shifted so much that there’s no possibility of restarting the movie business,” says Joshua Grode, chief executive of Legendary Entertainment, which produced “Godzilla vs. Kong.” “This tells everybody: the moviegoing business is here, and, yes, it may be different post-pandemic. But there is a viable industry there.”