Ash-covered St. Vincent braces for more volcanic eruptions
KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent — People who ignored an initial warning to evacuate the area closest to a volcano on the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent raced to get clear Saturday, a day after it erupted with an explosion that shook the ground, spewed ash skyward and blanketed the island in a layer of fine volcanic rock.
The eruption Friday of La Soufrière — its first large one since 1979 — transformed the island’s lush towns and villages into gloomy, gray versions of themselves. A strong sulfur smell was unavoidable Saturday and ash covered everything, creeping into homes, cars and noses, and obscuring the sunshine that makes the island so popular with tourists.
Chellise Rogers, who lives in the village of Biabou, which is in an area of St. Vincent that’s considered safe, said she could hear continuous rumbling.
“It’s exhilarating and scary at the same time,” she said. “(It’s the) first time I am witnessing a volcano eruption.”
Scientists warn that the explosions could continue for days or even weeks, and that the worst could be yet to come.
Bouquet-bearing public honors prince Philip, ignoring COVID warning
LONDON — British authorities have implored people to stay away from royal palaces as they mourn the death of Prince Philip in this time of COVID-19, but they keep coming. Not just to honor him, but to support Queen Elizabeth II, who lost her husband of 73 years.
The mix included children, seniors, Sikhs and the children of African immigrants. A cross-section of British society and admirers from abroad descended on Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle on Saturday. They laid bouquets at the gates, offered prayers or just paused for a moment of reflection as they remembered a man who dedicated much of his life to public service.
Mourners talked about Philip’s work with some 780 charities and organizations, particularly his Duke of Edinburgh Award, which seeks to build confidence and resilience in young people. But they also recalled his role as the consummate royal consort, supporting the queen at thousands of public engagements and state visits.
“We had a really hard year all of us and there’s people uniting in a very special moment,” said Carolina Przeniewska, originally from Poland, who came to Buckingham Place with her 5-year-old daughter Grace. “So I wanted her to see it and I wanted to pay respect.”
At Buckingham Palace, the queen’s London residence, well-wishers braved a chilly, gray day to line up and snake their way past the black iron gates, where tourists normally wait to watch the changing of the guard. People were allowed to approach the gates one at a time to lay their tributes as police tried to control the crowd amid Britain’s coronavirus restrictions.
Maryland lawmakers override vetoes on sweeping police reform measures
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland lawmakers voted Saturday to override Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s vetoes of three far-reaching police reform measures that supporters say are needed to increase accountability and restore public trust.
One of the measures repeals job protections in the police disciplinary process that critics say impede accountability. Maryland approved the nation’s first Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights in 1974, and about 20 states have adopted similar laws setting due process procedure for investigating police misconduct. Maryland is the first to repeal the law, replacing it with new procedures that give civilians a role in the police disciplinary process.
The Democrat-controlled General Assembly has been working on reforms for months, following nationwide protests against racial injustice that were fueled by the police custody death of George Floyd in Minnesota nearly one year ago.
“Last year, I attended and participated in multiple demonstrations of people demanding change — the young and the old, people of all races and walks of life,” said Sen. Charles Sydnor, a Democrat who sponsored one of the measures. “With so many situations being thrust before our eyes, we could no longer deny what we see, and I thank my colleagues for believing their eyes and listening to the majority of Marylanders.”
Opponents said the measures went too far. The package includes provisions to increase the civil liability limit on lawsuits involving police from $400,000 to $890,000. An officer convicted of causing serious injury or death through excessive force would face 10 years in prison.
Trump addresses GOP as power to shape national debate wanes
WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump insists he’s enjoying his life off Twitter. The press releases his aides fire off on an increasingly frequent basis are more “elegant,” he says. Plus there’s no risk of backlash for retweeting unsavory accounts.
But since Trump was barred from major social media channels after helping incite the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, his power to shape the national conversation is being tested.
Trump transformed from a reality television star to a politician and president by bending the tools of communication and the media to his will. He still connects with his supporters through his releases and appearances on Fox News and other conservative outlets, where he repeats misinformation about the 2020 election. And he remains a powerful force in the Republican Party, with a starring role Saturday at a Republican National Committee event at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.
Still, the sway over American life he once enjoyed appears to be eroding — at least for now.
From wire sources
“It’ll never be the same for Trump unless he’s a candidate again,” said Harold Holzer, an historian who is director of Hunter College’s Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute and wrote a book about presidents and the press. “I don’t think it’s unnatural for coverage to diminish. I’m sure it’s tough on his ego, given how much oxygen he sucks up and how much ink he generates, but it’s not unnatural for an ex-president to get less attention.”
Charles: Royal family ‘deeply grateful’ for world’s support
LONDON — Britain’s Prince Charles offered a heartfelt tribute to his “dear Papa” on Saturday as Buckingham Palace offered the broad outlines of a royal funeral that will be attended by the family and broadcast to the world.
As Queen Elizabeth II and other relatives mourned, Charles offered a personal video message saying the royal family was “deeply grateful” for the outpouring of support they’ve received following the death Friday of his 99-year-old father, Prince Philip. The heir to the throne said he was touched by the number of people around the world who have shared his family’s loss and sorrow.
“My dear Papa was a very special person who I think, above all else, would have been amazed by the reaction and the touching things that have been said about him,” Charles said, speaking from his southwestern England home of Highgrove. “And from that point of view we are, my family, deeply grateful for all that. It will sustain us in this particular loss and at this particularly sad time.”
Philip’s royal ceremonial funeral will take place April 17 at Windsor Castle — a slimmed-down service amid the COVID-19 pandemic that will be entirely closed to the public. The palace insisted the royals would strictly adhere to national virus guidelines, measures that in theory would entail mask wearing in an enclosed space and social distancing. The palace declined to comment on specifics.
Philip, the queen’s husband of 73 years who was also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, took part in planning his own funeral and its focus on family was in accordance with his wishes. The duke also took part in designing the modified Land Rover that will carry his coffin.
Stalled at first jab: Vaccine shortages hit poor countries
LONDON — As many as 60 countries, including some of the world’s poorest, might be stalled at the first shots of their coronavirus vaccinations because nearly all deliveries through the global program intended to help them are blocked until as late as June.
COVAX, the global initiative to provide vaccines to countries lacking the clout to negotiate for scarce supplies on their own, has in the past week shipped more than 25,000 doses to low-income countries only twice on any given day. Deliveries have all but halted since Monday.
During the past two weeks, according to data compiled daily by UNICEF, fewer than 2 million COVAX doses in total were cleared for shipment to 92 countries in the developing world — the same amount injected in Britain alone.
On Friday, the head of the World Health Organization slammed the “shocking imbalance” in global COVID-19 vaccination. WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus said that while one in four people in rich countries had received a vaccine, only one in 500 people in poorer countries had gotten a dose.
The vaccine shortage stems mostly from India’s decision to stop exporting vaccines from its Serum Institute factory, which produces the overwhelming majority of the AstraZeneca doses that COVAX counted on to supply around a third of the global population at a time coronavirus is spiking worldwide.
Trump: The key to Republican success is more Trumpism
PALM BEACH, Fla. — Former President Donald Trump staked his claim to the Republican Party in a closed-door speech to donors Saturday night, casting his populist policies and attack-dog politics as the key to future Republican success.
Trump also reinforced his commitment to the GOP in his address, according to prepared remarks obtained by The Associated Press, which comes as Republican officials seek to downplay an intraparty feud over Trump’s role in the party, his commitment to GOP fundraising and his plans for 2024. While Trump’s advisers report he will emphasize party unity, he rarely sticks to script.
“The key to this triumphant future will be to build on the gains our amazing movement has made over the past four years,” Trump told hundreds of leading Republican donors, according to the prepared remarks. “Under our leadership, we welcomed millions upon millions of new voters into the Republican coalition. We transformed the Republican Party into a party that truly fights for all Americans.”
The former president delivered his remarks behind closed doors at his Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, in the final address of the Republican National Committee’s weekend donor summit in Palm Beach. Most of the RNC’s invitation-only weekend gathering was set at a luxury hotel four miles away, but attendees were bused to Trump’s club for his remarks.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to address donors Saturday night as well. Earlier in the weekend, a slew of candidates already positioning themselves for a 2024 presidential run made appearances. Besides DeSantis, the potential White House contenders included South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Sens. Rick Scott and Marco Rubio of Florida and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina also spoke.
Ramsey Clark, attorney general under Johnson, dies at 93
NEW YORK — Ramsey Clark, the attorney general in the Johnson administration who became an outspoken activist for unpopular causes and a harsh critic of U.S. policy, has died. He was 93.
Clark, whose father, Tom Clark, was attorney general and U.S. Supreme Court justice, died on Friday at his Manhattan home, a family member, Sharon Welch, announced to media outlets including The New York Times and The Washington Post.
After serving in President Lyndon Johnson’s Cabinet in 1967 and ‘68, Clark set up a private law practice in New York in which he championed civil rights, fought racism and the death penalty, and represented declared foes of the United States including former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman. He also defended former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
New York civil rights attorney Ron Kuby, who worked with Clark on numerous cases, called the death “very, very sad in a season of losses.”
“The progressive legal community has lost its elder dean and statesman,” Kuby said. “Over many generations, Ramsey Clark was a principled voice, conscience and a fighter for civil and human rights.”