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Biden cancels offshore oil lease sales in Gulf Coast, Alaska
May 12, 2022
By MATTHEW DALY Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration says it is canceling three oil and gas lease sales scheduled in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Alaska, removing millions of acres from possible drilling as U.S. gas prices reach record highs.
The Interior Department announced the decision Wednesday night, citing a lack of industry interest in drilling off the Alaska coast and “conflicting court rulings” that have complicated drilling efforts in the Gulf of Mexico, where the bulk of U.S. offshore drilling takes place,
The decision likely means the Biden administration will not hold a lease sale for offshore drilling this year and comes as Interior appears set to let a mandatory five-year plan for offshore drilling expire next month.
“Unfortunately, this is becoming a pattern — the administration talks about the need for more supply and acts to restrict it,” said Frank Macchiarola, senior vice president of the American Petroleum Institute, the top lobbying group for the oil and gas industry.
“As geopolitical volatility and global energy prices continue to rise, we again urge the administration to end the uncertainty and immediately act on a new five-year program for federal offshore leasing,” he said.
The lease cancellations come as gas prices have surged to a record $4.40 a gallon amid the war in Ukraine and other disruptions that have pushed prices $1.40 a gallon higher than a year ago. Consumer prices jumped 8.3% last month from a year ago, the government said Wednesday.
A federal appeals court in New Orleans, meanwhile, is considering a challenge to a moratorium on new federal leasing that Biden imposed soon after taking office in January 2021. Biden said the administration needed to consider the effect of new drilling on climate change and conduct proper environmental reviews.
Louisiana and 12 other states challenged Biden’s order, saying laws passed in response to the 1970s oil crisis require lease sales on federal lands and waters.
The Biden administration failed to “grapple with prior analyses” of the planned sales to give a valid reason for postponing or canceling them, Louisiana Deputy Solicitor General Joseph Scott St. John told a 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel this week.
The three-judge panel did not indicate when they will rule.
Environmental groups hailed the latest lease cancellation, saying the administration needs to do more to curb greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels that are driving climate change.
“To save imperiled marine life and protect coastal communities and our climate from pollution, we need to end new leasing and phase out existing drilling,” said Kristen Monsell, oceans legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group.
The state challenge to Biden’s leasing order has not yet gone to trial, but a federal judge blocked the order in a preliminary injunction last year, writing that since federal law does not state the president can suspend oil lease sales, only Congress can do so.
After U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty ruled for the states, the Interior Department held an offshore lease sale last fall, which a federal judge in Washington, D.C. later blocked.
The administration has appealed Doughty’s ruling, but has scheduled onshore lease sales next month in eight mostly Western states. However, the administration scaled back the amount of land offered for drilling and raised royalty rates by 50%.
Biden has come under pressure to increase U.S. crude production as fuel prices spike because of the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine. The United States and other nations have banned imports of Russian oil, driving up prices worldwide.
Biden also faces pressure from Democrats and environmental groups urging him to do more to combat climate change, even as his legislative proposals on climate and clean energy remain stalled in a sharply divided Congress.
Interior cannot conduct new offshore oil and gas lease sales until it has completed a required five-year plan. The current plan expires June 30, and administration officials have not said when or if a replacement will be released.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said last week that the oil and gas industry is “set” with the amount of drilling permits at its disposal. She defended Biden administration actions to scale down federal leasing, saying that industry has about 9,000 permits that have been approved but are not being used.
“The industry is free to use these permits in a way they see fit. They just haven’t acted on those,” Haaland told a House committee last week.
Oil companies have been reluctant to ramp up production, saying there are not enough workers, scant money for new drilling investments and wariness that today’s high prices won’t last.
Democrats accuse the industry of “price gouging” and have vowed to bring legislation cracking down on price manipulation to votes in the House and Senate.


Associated Press writer Janet McConnaughey in New Orleans contributed to this story.

As US poised to restrict abortion, other nations ease access
May 12, 2022
By ASTRID SUÁREZ and CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN Associated Press
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — As women in the United States find themselves on the verge of possibly losing the constitutional right to abortion, courts in many other parts of the world have been moving in the opposite direction.
That includes in a number of traditionally conservative societies — such as recently in Colombia, where the Constitutional Court in February legalized the procedure until the 24th week of pregnancy, part of a broader trend seen in parts of heavily Catholic Latin America.
It’s not yet clear what impact there will be outside the United States from the leaked draft opinion suggesting the U.S. Supreme Court could overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
But for women’s activists who for years have led grinding campaigns demanding open access to abortion, often looking to the United States as a model, it’s a discouraging sign and a reminder that hard-won gains can be impermanent.
“It is an awful precedent for the coming years for the region and the world,” said Colombian Catalina Martínez Coral, Latin America and Caribbean director for the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, which was among the groups that litigated the abortion case in Colombia’s high court.
The February ruling there established a broad right for women to have abortions within the 24-week period, whereas previously they could do so only in specific cases such as if a fetus presented malformations or a pregnancy resulted from rape. Abortion is still allowed after that period under those special circumstances.
The decision fell short of advocates’ hopes for a complete decriminalization, but Martínez Coral said it still left Colombia with the “most progressive legal framework in Latin America.”
Similarly, Mexico’s Supreme Court held last year that it was unconstitutional to punish abortion. As the country’s highest court, its ruling bars all jurisdictions from charging a woman with a crime for terminating a pregnancy.
Statutes outlawing abortion are still on the books in most of Mexico’s 32 states, however, and nongovernmental organizations that have long pushed for decriminalization are pressing state legislatures to reform them. Abortion was already readily available in Mexico City and some states.
To the south in Argentina, lawmakers in late 2020 passed a bill legalizing abortion until the 14th week and after that for circumstances similar to those described in the Colombia ruling.
It’s also widely available in Cuba and Uruguay.
But expansion of abortion access has not extended to all of Latin America, with many countries restricting it to certain circumstances — such as Brazil, the region’s most populous nation, where it’s permissible only in cases of rape, risk to the woman’s life and certified cases of the birth defect anencephaly. Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who is seeking a new term in October, recently said he sees legalizing abortion as a public health issue, eliciting criticism in a country where few approve of the procedure.
Other places have total bans with no exceptions, such as Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador. Courts in the latter have given women long prison sentences for aggravated homicide even in cases where prosecutors suspect a miscarriage was actually an abortion.
Many African nations also maintain complete bans, but in October 2021, Benin legalized abortion in most circumstances up to 12 weeks. That significantly increased safe access to the procedure after the health minister reported that nearly 200 women were dying each year of complications from clandestine abortions. Previously abortion was permitted in cases of rape or incest; risk to the woman’s life; or severe fetal malformation.
Most European countries have legalized abortion, including predominantly Catholic ones. Ireland did so in 2018, followed by tiny San Marino in a voter referendum last fall. It remains illegal in Andorra, Malta and Vatican City, while Poland last year tightened its abortion laws.
It’s also been widely available in Israel since 1978 and relatively uncontroversial, allowed by law before the 24th week with the approval of hospital “termination committees” that consist of medical professionals including at least one woman.
Laws and interpretations vary across the Muslim world.
Abortion has been legal up to 12 weeks in Tunisia for decades, but in Iran it’s been forbidden since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Last year the leader of Cairo’s top institution of Islamic clerics, Al-Azhar, said abortion is not the solution even in cases where a child is likely to be seriously ill or disabled.
In Japan, abortion is allowed only for economic and health reasons, and requires partners’ consent, making Japan one of a handful of countries in the world to do so. Victims of sexual violence are excluded from the requirement.
While there is a growing call for women to have the right to make their own decision, Japan’s government, led by the ultra-conservative Liberal Democratic Party, has long focused on traditional gender roles of women to give birth and raise children.
Japan has not approved abortion pills, though an application for one by a British company is pending at the health ministry.
Abortion has been legal in India since 1971. Women can terminate pregnancy up to 20 weeks, but only on a doctor’s advice. Under changes in 2021, a woman can also seek an abortion up to 24 weeks under certain circumstances such as rape or incest, though it requires approval from two doctors.
China is moving to limit abortions, but that’s because it has one of the highest rates of abortions in the world.
Last September, the Chinese cabinet, known as the State Council, published new national guidelines that require hospitals to “reduce non-medically necessary abortions.” In February, China’s family planning association announced it would launch a campaign to reduce teenage abortions.
When the U.S. Supreme Court’s final decision is handed down, expected in late June or early July, the world will be watching.
“While moves to decriminalize and legalize abortion in places like Argentina, Ireland, Mexico and Colombia in the last few years have been a huge win for the global community,” Agnes Callamard, secretary-general of the human rights group Amnesty International, said in a statement, “there are grim signs that the United States is out of step with the progress that the rest of the world is making in protecting sexual and reproductive rights.”


Sherman reported from Mexico City. Associated Press writers Karl Ritter in Stockholm, Sweden; Almudena Calatrava in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Mauricio Savarese in Rio de Janeiro; Carley Petesch in Dakar, Senegal; Ilan Ben Zion in Jerusalem; Isabel DeBre in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo; Krutika Pathi in New Delhi; and Huizhong Wu in Taipei, Taiwan contributed to this report.

Wall Street’s losses worsen as markets tumble worldwide
May 9, 2022
By STAN CHOE and ALEX VEIGA AP Business Writers
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks racked up more losses on Wall Street Monday, leaving the S&P 500 at its lowest point in more than a year.
The sell-off came as renewed worries about China’s economy piled on top of global financial markets already battered by rising interest rates.
The S&P 500 tumbled 3.2%, deepening its losses following five straight down weeks, its longest such streak in more than a decade.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 2% and the Nasdaq pulled back 4.3% as tech-oriented stocks again took the brunt of the selling. Monday’s sharp drop leaves the S&P 500, Wall Street’s main measure of health, down 16.8% from its record set early this year.
Wall Street’s pullback followed a worldwide swoon for markets. Not only did stocks fall across Europe and much of Asia, but so did everything from old-economy crude oil to new-economy bitcoin. Bond yields and the price of gold also fell.
Among U.S. stocks, the energy sector, a star performer in recent weeks, accounted for some of the sharpest declines as oil and gas prices fell. Marathon Oil and APA Corp. each sank more than 14%.
“Basically, investors are finding it very difficult to find a place to hide,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA. “The traditional safe havens, such as defensive sectors or such as bonds, are not doing that well. Commodities are not doing well.”
The S&P 500 fell 132.10 to 3,991.24. The Dow dropped 653.67 points to 32,245.70. The Nasdaq slid 521.41 points to 11,623.25.
Smaller company stocks also fell broadly. The Russell 2000 gave up 77.48 points, or 4.2%, to 1,762.08.
Most of this year’s damage has been the result of the Federal Reserve’s aggressive flip away from doing everything it can to prop up financial markets and the economy. The central bank has already pulled its key short-term interest rate off its record low near zero, where it sat for nearly all the pandemic. Last week, it signaled additional increases of double the usual amount may hit in upcoming months, in hopes of stamping out the high inflation sweeping the economy.
The moves by design will slow the economy by making it more expensive to borrow. The risk is the Fed could cause a recession if it raises rates too high or too quickly. In the meantime, higher rates discourage investors from paying very high prices for investments, because investors can get a better return from owning super-safe Treasury bonds than they could just a few weeks ago.
That’s helped cause a roughly 29% tumble for bitcoin since April’s start, for example. It dropped 9.7% Monday, according to Coindesk.
Worries about the world’s second-largest economy added to the gloom Monday. Analysts cited comments over the weekend by a Chinese official warning of a grave situation for jobs, as the country hopes to halt the spread of COVID-19.
Authorities in Shanghai have again tightened restrictions, amid citizen complaints that it feels endless, just as the city was emerging from a month of strict lockdown after an outbreak.
The fear is that China’s strict anti-COVID policies will add more disruptions to worldwide trade and supply chains, while dragging on its economy, which for years was a main driver of global growth.
In the past, Wall Street has endured similar pressures because of the strong profit growth that companies were producing.
But this most recent earnings reporting season for big U.S. companies has yielded less enthusiasm. Companies overall are reporting bigger profits than expected, as is usually the case. But discouraging signs for future growth have been plentiful.
The number of companies citing “weak demand” in their conference calls following earnings reports jumped to the highest level since the second quarter of 2020, strategist Savita Subramanian wrote in a BofA Global Research report. Tech earnings are also lagging, she said.
The tech sector is the largest in the S&P 500 by market value, giving it additional weight for the market’s movements. Many tech-oriented companies saw profits boom through the pandemic as people looked for new ways to work and entertain themselves while locked down at home. But slower profit growth leaves their stocks vulnerable after their prices shot so high on expectations of continued gains.
The higher interest rates engineered by the Fed are also hitting tech stocks particularly hard because they’re seen as some of the market’s most expensive. The Nasdaq composite’s loss of 25.7% for 2022 so far is much sharper than that for other indexes.
Electric automaker Rivian Automotive slumped 20.9% Monday as restrictions expire that prevented some big investors from selling their shares following its stock market debut six months ago. The company has lost more than three quarters of its value so far this year.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury has shot to its highest level since 2018 as inflation and expectations for Fed action rose. It moderated Monday, dipping to 3.03% from 3.12% late Friday. But it’s still more than double where it started the year.
Oil prices fell, weighing down energy stocks. Benchmark U.S. crude fell 6.1% to settle at $103.09 per barrel, though it’s still up about 40% this year. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 5.7% to settle at $105.94 a barrel.


AP Business Writer Yuri Kageyama contributed. Veiga reported from Los Angeles.

After leak, religious rift over legal abortion on display
May 9, 2022
By DEEPA BHARATH and LUIS ANDRES HENAO Associated Press
America’s faithful are bracing — some with cautionary joy and others with looming dread — for the Supreme Court to potentially overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and end the nationwide right to legal abortion.
A reversal of the 49-year-old ruling has never felt more possible since a draft opinion suggesting justices may do so was leaked this week. While religious believers at the heart of the decades-old fight over abortion are shocked at the breach of high court protocol, they are still as deeply divided and their beliefs on the contentious issue as entrenched as ever.
National polls show that most Americans support abortion access. A Public Religion Research Institute survey from March found that a majority of religious groups believe it should be legal in most cases — with the exception of white evangelical Protestants, 69% of whom said the procedure should be outlawed in most or all cases.
In conservative Christian corners, the draft opinion has sparked hope. Faith groups that have historically taken a strong anti-abortion stance, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, have urged followers to pray for Roe’s reversal.
The Rev. Manuel Rodriguez, pastor of the 17,000-strong Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic church in New York City’s Queens borough, said his mostly Latino congregation is heartened by the prospect of Roe’s demise at a time when courts in some Latin American countries such as Colombia and Argentina have moved to legalize abortion.
“You don’t fix a crime committing another crime,” Rodriguez said.
Bishop Garland R. Hunt Sr., senior pastor of The Father’s House, a nondenominational, predominantly African American church in Peachtree Corners, Georgia, agreed.
“This is the result of ongoing, necessary prayer since 1973,” Hunt said. “As a Christian, I believe that God is the one that gives life — not politicians or justices. I certainly want to see more babies protected in the womb.”
No faith is monolithic on the abortion issue. Yet many followers of faiths that don’t prohibit abortion are aghast that a view held by a minority of Americans could supersede their individual rights and religious beliefs.
In Judaism, for example, many authorities say abortion is permitted or even required in cases where the woman’s life is in danger.
“This ruling would be outlawing abortion in cases when our religion would permit us,” said Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, scholar in residence at the National Council of Jewish Women, “and it is basing its concepts of when life begins on someone else’s philosophy or theology.”
In Islam, similarly, there is room for “all aspects of reproductive choice from family planning to abortion,” said Nadiah Mohajir, co-founder of Heart Women and Girls, a Chicago nonprofit that works with Muslim communities on reproductive rights and other gender issues.
“One particular political agenda is infringing on my right and my religious and personal freedom,” she said.
According to new data released Wednesday by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, 56% of U.S. Muslims say abortion should be legal in most or all cases, a figure that’s about on par with the beliefs of U.S. Catholics.
Donna Nicolino, a student at Fire Lotus Temple, a Zen Buddhist center in Brooklyn, said her faith calls on followers to show compassion to others. Restricting or banning abortion fails to consider why women have abortions and would hurt the poor and marginalized the most, she said.
“If we truly value life as a culture,” Nicolino said, “we would take steps like guaranteeing maternal health care, health care for children, decent housing for pregnant women.”
Sikhism prohibits sex-selective killings — female infanticide — but is more nuanced when it comes to abortion and favors compassion and personal choice, said Harinder Singh, senior fellow of research and policy at Sikhri, a New Jersey-based nonprofit that creates educational resources about the faith.
A 2019 survey he co-led with research associate Jasleen Kaur found that 65% of Sikhs said abortion should be up to the woman instead of the government or faith leaders, while 77% said Sikh institutions should support those who are considering abortions.
“The surveyed Sikh community is very clear that no religious or political authority should be deciding this issue,” Singh said.
Compassion is a virtue emphasized as well by some Christian leaders who are calling on their ardently anti-abortion colleagues to lower the temperature as they speak out on the issue.
The Rev. Kirk Winslow, pastor of Canvas Presbyterian Church in Irvine, California, said he views abortion through a human and spiritual lens instead of as a political issue. Communities should turn to solutions such as counseling centers, parenting courses, health care and education, he said, instead of getting “drawn into a culture war.”
He has counseled women struggling with whether to have an abortion, and stresses the importance of empathy.
“Amidst the pain, fear and confusion of an unexpected pregnancy, no one has ever said, ‘I’m excited to get an abortion,'” Winslow said. “And there are times when getting an abortion may be the best chance we have to bring God’s peace to the situation. And I know many would disagree with that position. I would only respond that most haven’t been in my office for these very real and very difficult conversations.”
Likewise, Caitlyn Stenerson, an Evangelical Covenant Church pastor and campus minister in Minnesota’s Twin Cities area, called on faith leaders to “tread carefully,” bearing in mind that women in their pews may have had abortions for a variety of reasons and may be grieving and wrestling with trauma.
“As a pastor my job isn’t to heap more shame on people but to bring them to Jesus,” Stenerson said. “We are called to speak truth, but with love.”
Ahead of a final court ruling expected to be handed down this summer, faith leaders on both sides are preparing for the possibility of abortion becoming illegal in many states.
The Rev. Sarah Halverson-Cano, senior pastor of Irvine United Congregational Church in Irvine, California, said her congregation is considering providing sanctuary and other support to women who may travel to the state to end their pregnancies. On Tuesday, the day after the draft opinion leaked, she led congregants and community members in a rally for abortion rights in nearby Santa Ana.
“Our faith calls us to be responsive to those in need,” Halverson-Cano said. “It’s time to stand with women and families and look into how to respond to this horrible injustice.”
Niklas Koehler, president of the Students for Life group at Franciscan University of Steubenville, a private Catholic college in eastern Ohio, said he and others regularly attend a special Mass on Saturday with prayers for an end to abortion. They then travel across the state line to nearby Pittsburgh to hold a prayer vigil and distribute leaflets outside an abortion clinic.
Actions like that will continue to be necessary even if the draft opinion becomes the law of the land, Koehler said, because abortion will likely remain legal in states such as Pennsylvania.
“We will still be going to pray outside the clinic,” he said.


Bharath reported from Los Angeles and Henao from New York. Associated Press writers Giovanna Dell’Orto in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Peter Smith in Pittsburgh contributed.


Associated Press religion coverage receives support through the AP’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

Supreme Court draft suggests Roe could be overturned
May 3, 2022
By MARK SHERMAN and ZEKE MILLER Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — A draft opinion suggests the U.S. Supreme Court could be poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide, according to a Politico report.
A decision to overrule Roe would lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states and could have huge ramifications for this year’s elections. But it’s unclear if the draft represents the court’s final word on the matter — opinions often change in ways big and small in the drafting process.
Whatever the outcome, the Politico report late Monday represents an extremely rare breach of the court’s secretive deliberation process, and on a case of surpassing importance.
“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” the draft opinion states. It was signed by Justice Samuel Alito, a member of the court’s 6-3 conservative majority who was appointed by former President George W. Bush.
The document was labeled a “1st Draft” of the “Opinion of the Court” in a case challenging Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks, a case known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
The court is expected to rule on the case before its term ends in late June or early July.
The draft opinion in effect states there is no constitutional right to abortion services and would allow individual states to more heavily regulate or outright ban the procedure.
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” it states, referencing the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey that affirmed Roe’s finding of a constitutional right to abortion services but allowed states to place some constraints on the practice. “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
A Supreme Court spokeswoman said the court had no comment and The Associated Press could not immediately confirm the authenticity of the draft Politico posted, which dates from February.
Politico said only that it received “a copy of the draft opinion from a person familiar with the court’s proceedings in the Mississippi case along with other details supporting the authenticity of the document.”
The draft opinion strongly suggests that when the justices met in private shortly after arguments in the case on Dec. 1, at least five voted to overrule Roe and Casey, and Alito was assigned the task of writing the court’s majority opinion.
Votes and opinions in a case aren’t final until a decision is announced or, in a change wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, posted on the court’s website.
The report comes amid a legislative push to restrict abortion in several Republican-led states — Oklahoma being the most recent — even before the court issues its decision. Critics of those measures have said low-income women will disproportionately bear the burden of the new restrictions.
The leak jumpstarted the intense political reverberations that the high court’s ultimate decision was expected to have in the midterm election year. Already, politicians on both sides of the aisle were seizing on the report to fundraise and energize their supporters on either side of the hot-button issue.
An AP-NORC poll in December found that Democrats increasingly see protecting abortion rights as a high priority for the government.
Other polling shows relatively few Americans want to see Roe overturned. In 2020, AP VoteCast found that 69% of voters in the presidential election said the Supreme Court should leave the Roe v. Wade decision as is; just 29% said the court should overturn the decision. In general, AP-NORC polling finds a majority of the public favors abortion being legal in most or all cases.
Still, when asked about abortion policy generally, Americans have nuanced attitudes on the issue, and many don’t think that abortion should be possible after the first trimester or that women should be able to obtain a legal abortion for any reason.
Alito, in the draft, said the court can’t predict how the public might react and shouldn’t try. “We cannot allow our decisions to be affected by any extraneous influences such as concern about the public’s reaction to our work,” Alito wrote in the draft opinion, according to Politico.
People on both sides of the issue quickly gathered outside the Supreme Court waving signs and chanting on a balmy spring night, following the release of the Politico report.
Reaction was swift from elected officials in Congress and across the country.
In a joint statement from Congress’ top two Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “If the report is accurate, the Supreme Court is poised to inflict the greatest restriction of rights in the past fifty years — not just on women but on all Americans.”
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, also a Democrat, said people seeking abortions could head to New York. “For anyone who needs access to care, our state will welcome you with open arms. Abortion will always be safe & accessible in New York,” Hochul said in a tweet.
Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch said in a statement, “We will let the Supreme Court speak for itself and wait for the Court’s official opinion.” But local officials were praising the draft.
“This puts the decision making back into the hands of the states, which is where it should have always been,” said Mississippi state Rep. Becky Currie.
Congress could act, too, though a bill that would write Roe’s protections into federal law stalled in the Senate after passing the House last year with only Democratic votes.
At Supreme Court arguments in December, all six conservative justices signaled that they would uphold the Mississippi law, and five asked questions that suggested that overruling Roe and Casey was a possibility.
Only Chief Justice John Roberts seemed prepared to take the smaller step of upholding the 15-week ban, though that too would be a significant weakening of abortion rights.
Until now, the court has allowed states to regulate but not ban abortion before the point of viability, around 24 weeks.
The court’s three liberal justices seemed likely to be in dissent.
It’s impossible to know what efforts are taking place behind the scenes to influence any justice’s vote. If Roberts is inclined to allow Roe to survive, he need only pick off one other conservative vote to deprive the court of a majority to overrule the abortion landmark.
Twenty-six states are certain or likely to ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned, according to the pro-abortion rights think tank the Guttmacher Institute. Of those, 22 states already have total or near-total bans on the books that are currently blocked by Roe, aside from Texas. The state’s law banning it after six weeks has already been allowed to go into effect by the Supreme Court due to its unusual civil enforcement structure. Four more states are considered likely to quickly pass bans if Roe is overturned.
Sixteen states and the District of Columbia, meanwhile, have protected access to abortion in state law.
This year, anticipating a decision overturning or gutting Roe, eight conservative states have already moved to restrict abortion rights. Oklahoma, for example, passed several bills in recent weeks, including one that goes into effect this summer making it a felony to perform an abortion. Like many anti-abortion bills passed in GOP-led states this year, it does not have exceptions for rape or incest, only to save the life of the mother.
Eight Democratic-leaning states protected or expanded access to the procedure, including California, which has passed legislation making the procedure less expensive and is considering other bills to make itself an “abortion sanctuary” if Roe is overturned.
The draft looked legitimate to some followers of the court. Veteran Supreme Court lawyer Neal Katyal, who worked as a clerk to Justice Stephen Breyer and therefore has been in a position to see drafts, wrote on Twitter: “There are lots of signals the opinion is legit. The length and depth of analysis, would be very hard to fake. It says it is written by Alito and definitely sounds like him.”


Associated Press writers Jessica Gresko in Washington and Lindsay Whitehurst in Salt Lake City contributed to this report.

Wall Street points lower ahead of Fed meeting
May 3, 2022
NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. markets pointed lower before the opening bell Tuesday ahead of the release of the Federal Reserve’s decision this week on interest rates.
Futures for the Dow Jones industrials and the S&P 500 both declined 0.2% with less than two hours before markets open.
Investors are expecting another rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve this week as it and other central banks accelerate efforts to curb four-decade high inflation. The central bank is expected to raise short-term interest rates on Wednesday by double the usual level. It has already raised its key overnight rate once, for the first time since 2018, and Wall Street is expecting several big hikes in coming months.
That will make it more costly to borrow — for a car, a home, a credit card purchase and may cool a red-hot economy. It also would weigh on the high-flying stock markets as investors transfer money into other assets as yields rise. Ultra-low interest rates helped drive stocks to unprecedented highs during the pandemic.
Benchmarks rose in Hong Kong, Paris and Frankfurt but fell in Sydney and London. Trading was light with markets in mainland China, Japan and some other countries closed for holidays.
Australia’s central bank lifted its benchmark interest rate to 0.35% from 0.1%, the first such hike since 2010. The Fed is expected to announce a rate hike Wednesday as it and other central banks battle inflation that has been hovering at 40-year highs.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.5% to 7,307.50 on Tuesday.
In midday European trading, Germany’s DAX rose 0.2% while the CAC 40 in Paris advanced 0.3%. Britain’s FTSE 100 slipped 0.7%.
In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng inched 0.1% higher to 21,101.89. The index had rallied earlier in the day on hopes for further easing of coronavirus prevention rules. But it failed to hold onto those gains. The government reported that the territory’s economy contracted by 4% in annual terms in the first quarter of the year.
In South Korea, the Kospi shed 0.3% to 2,680.46. Shares also fell in Taiwan and Thailand.
On Monday, a late-afternoon turnaround led by technology stocks left major indexes moderately higher on Wall Street, averting more losses following a brutal April when widespread tech sell-offs dragged down major benchmarks.
Concerns about rising inflation have been hanging over the latest round of corporate earnings. This week is bringing more, with CVS Health reporting results on Wednesday and Kellogg on Thursday. Pfizer reported strong first quarter sales and profit on Tuesday, but revised its full-year outlook lower, sending shares down 1.3% before the opening bell.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury was at 2.96% after rising to 3.00% on Monday. It hadn’t been above 3% since Dec. 3, 2018, according to Tradeweb.
Higher yields make bonds increasingly attractive assets relative to more risky and expensive stocks, particularly those of technology and other growth-oriented companies.
European energy ministers were meeting in Brussels to discuss Russian supply issues and sanctions. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted a jump in already high oil and natural gas prices.
U.S. benchmark crude oil lost $1.30 to $103.80 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 48 cents to $105.17 per barrel on Monday.
Brent crude shed $1.25 to $106.33 per barrel.
In currency trading, the dollar was at 129.89 Japanese yen, down from 130.15 yen on Monday. The euro rose to $1.0544 from $1.0505.

US economy shrank by 1.4% in Q1 but consumers kept spending
April 28, 2022
By CHRISTOPHER RUGABER AP Economics Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy shrank last quarter for the first time since the pandemic recession struck two years ago, contracting at a 1.4% annual rate, but consumers and businesses kept spending in a sign of economic durability.
The economy’s overall decline in the January-March quarter does not mean a recession is likely in the coming months. Most economists expect a rebound this quarter as solid hiring and wage gains sustain growth.
Instead, the steady spending by households and companies suggests that the economy will likely keep expanding this year even though the Federal Reserve plans to raise rates aggressively to fight the inflation surge. The first quarter was hampered mainly by a slower restocking of goods in stores and warehouses and by a sharp drop in exports.
“The report isn’t as worrisome as it looks,” said Lydia Boussour, lead U.S. economist at Oxford Economics. “The details point to an economy with solid underlying strength that demonstrated resilience in the face of Omicron, lingering supply constraints and high inflation.”
The Commerce Department’s estimate Thursday of the first quarter’s gross domestic product — the nation’s total output of goods and services — fell far below the 6.9% annual growth in the fourth quarter of 2021. And for 2021 as a whole, the economy grew 5.7%, the highest calendar-year expansion since 1984.
In addition to a drop in business inventories and a widening trade deficit, the first quarter’s weak showing also reflected a slowdown from last year’s robust rebound from the pandemic, which was fueled in part by vast government aid and ultra-low interest rates. With stimulus checks and other government supports having ended, consumer spending has slowed from its blistering pace in the first half of last year.
The economy is in an unusual position. Unemployment is near a 50-year low, and wages are rising at a healthy pace. Yet serious threats have emerged from widespread disruptions overseas and rampant inflation, which is eroding consumers’ spending power. Last month, prices jumped 8.5% from a year earlier, the fastest such rise in four decades.
Last quarter’s negative GDP number also undercuts a key political message of President Joe Biden. The president has pointed to rapid growth and strong hiring as a healthy counterpoint to soaring inflation, which is highly unpopular with voters and small businesses.
Compounding Biden’s political difficulties, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and rising COVID cases overseas are weighing on the economy and heightening inflation pressures. Many companies are also still struggling to obtain the parts and supplies they need from tangled supply chains.
Imports surged in the first quarter, a sign that some of the supply snarls have eased. But ongoing lockdowns in China, including at its largest port, Shanghai, are likely to perpetuate shortages this year. Ford and General Motors have both said this week that they still can’t obtain all the semiconductor chips they need to build vehicles, costing them sales and forcing temporary plant closures.
A broader global slowdown is also expected this year, according to estimates last week by the International Monetary Fund. The 190-nation lending organization now foresees the disruptions of the Ukraine war and COVID slowing global growth to 3.6% this year from 6.1% last year.
Still, the U.S. job market — the most important pillar of the economy — remains robust. The number of people receiving unemployment benefits, a proxy for layoffs, fell to the lowest level since 1970. And in the January-March quarter, businesses and consumers increased their spending at a 3.7% annual rate after adjusting for inflation.
Economists consider that trend a better gauge than overall GDP of the economy’s underlying strength. Most analysts expect the steady pace of spending to sustain the economy’s growth, though the outlook remains highly uncertain.
Last quarter’s slowdown followed vigorous growth in the final quarter of 2021, driven by a surge in inventories as companies restocked in anticipation of holiday season spending.
Imports surged nearly 20% in the January-March quarter as businesses and consumers bought more goods from abroad while U.S. exports fell nearly 6%. That disparity widened the trade deficit and subtracted 3.2 percentage points from the quarter’s growth.
The weakness of the economy’s overall growth rate contrasts with the vitality of the job market. At 3.6%, the unemployment rate is nearly back to the half-century low it reached just before the pandemic. Layoffs have reached historically low levels as employers, plagued by labor shortages, have held tightly onto their workers.
Wages are rising steadily as companies compete to attract and retain workers, a trend that has helped maintain consumers’ ability to spend. At the same time, though, that spending has helped fuel inflation, which reached 8.5% in March compared with 12 months earlier.
Fed Chair Jerome Powell has signaled a rapid series of rate increases to combat higher prices. The Fed is set to raise its key short-term rate by a half-percentage point next week, the first hike that large since 2000. At least two more half-point increases – twice the more typical quarter-point hike — are expected at subsequent Fed meetings. They would amount to one of the fastest series of Fed rate hikes in decades.
Powell is betting that with job openings at near-record levels, consumer spending healthy and unemployment unusually low, the Fed can slow the economy enough to tame inflation without causing a recession. Yet most economists are skeptical that the Fed can achieve that goal with inflation as high as it is.

Biden wants $33B more to help Ukraine battle Russia
April 28, 2022
By AAMER MADHANI, ALAN FRAM and ZEKE MILLER Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will ask Congress for an additional $33 billion to help Ukraine fend off the Russian invasion, two administration officials said Thursday, a big boost in U.S. efforts to bolster Kyiv in an intensifying war that’s showing no signs of ending anytime soon.
Biden’s latest proposal — which the officials said was expected to last for five months — has more than $20 billion in military assistance for Ukraine and for bolstering defenses in nearby countries. There is also $8.5 billion in economic aid to help keep Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government functioning and $3 billion for food and humanitarian programs to help civilians and other spending, said the officials, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.
The new proposal would be more than twice as large as the initial $13.6 billion package of defense and economic aid for Ukraine and Western allies that Congress enacted last month and is almost exhausted. It seemed to signal a long-term U.S. commitment to staving off Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attempt to expand his nation’s control of its neighbor, and perhaps beyond.
The request comes with the fighting, now in its ninth week, sharpening in eastern and southern parts of the country and international tensions growing as Russia cuts off gas supplies to two NATO allies, Poland and Bulgaria.
There is wide, bipartisan support in Congress for giving Ukraine all the assistance it needs to fight the Russians, and its eventual approval seems certain. But Biden and congressional Democrats also want lawmakers to approve billions more to battle the pandemic, and that along with a Republican push to entangle the measure with an extension of some Trump-era immigration restrictions leaves the proposal’s pathway to enactment unclear.
In an accompanying letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Biden also asked lawmakers to include an additional $22.5 billion for vaccines, treatments, testing and aid to other countries in continuing efforts to contain COVID-19.
But that figure, which Biden also requested last month, seems aspirational at best. In a compromise with Republicans, Senate Democrats have already agreed to pare that figure to $10 billion, and reviving the higher amount would be at best an uphill fight.
As if acknowledging the political problems the pandemic response is encountering, Biden’s letter to Pelosi said, “I urge the Congress to include this much needed” pandemic spending in the Ukraine package. That wording seemed to suggest that separating the two initiatives, if needed to speed the Ukraine money, might be palatable to the White House.
Biden was also asking Congress on Thursday for new powers to seize and repurpose the assets of Russian oligarchs.
He wants lawmakers to make it a criminal offense for a person to “knowingly or intentionally possess proceeds directly obtained from corrupt dealings with the Russian government,” double the statute of limitations for foreign money laundering offenses to 10 years, and expand the definition of “racketeering” under U.S. law to include efforts to evade sanctions.
Biden will also ask Congress to allow the federal government use the proceeds from selling the seized assets of sanctioned Russian oligarchs to help the people of Ukraine.
In a virtual address to International Monetary Fund and World Bank leaders last week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for the proceeds of sanctioned property and Central Bank reserves to be used to compensate Ukraine for its losses.
He said that frozen Russian assets “have to be used to rebuild Ukraine after the war as well as to pay for the losses caused to other nations.”
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said at the time that congressional action would be needed to authorize such actions.
The war has already caused more than $60 billion in damage to buildings and infrastructure, World Bank President David Malpass said last week. And the IMF in its latest world economic outlook forecast that Ukraine’s economy will shrink by 35% this year and next.
In recent weeks, the U.S. and global allies have sanctioned dozens of oligarchs and their family members, along with hundreds of Russian officials involved in or deemed to be supporting its invasion of Ukraine. The White House says the new tools will toughen the impact of the sanctions on Russia’s economy and its ruling class by making sanctions more difficult to evade.
Biden last week warned that $6.5 billion earmarked for security assistance for Ukraine could soon be “exhausted” and that Congress would need to approve supplemental funding. More than half of the approved money for weapons and equipment for Ukraine’s military has already been drawn down.


Associated Press writer Fatima Hussein contributed to this report.

McKinsey exec faces questions on opioid, FDA consulting work
April 27, 2022
By MATTHEW PERRONE AP Health Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — The top executive for global consulting firm McKinsey & Company faced congressional questions Wednesday about the company’s work for U.S. health regulators even as it advised opioid drugmakers on how to boost sales of their prescription painkillers.
The hearing before a House committee is part of an ongoing investigation into McKinsey’s role in the U.S. opioid crisis that has been linked to over 500,000 overdose deaths from both prescription pain medications and illicit drugs like fentanyl.
Last year the consulting powerhouse agreed to pay $600 million to settle lawsuits over its work advising opioid makers, though it admitted no wrongdoing.
Members of the House Oversight and Reform Committee are questioning McKinsey’s top managing partner, Bob Sternfels, about revelations that the company allowed consultants working for OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma to simultaneously advise the Food and Drug Administration, the agency tasked with overseeing drug safety.
A preliminary report from the committee found 22 McKinsey consultants who worked for both the FDA and an opioid manufacturer over the span of a decade. The overlapping work included McKinsey staffers advising the FDA on overhauling its approach to drug safety, according to the committee’s review of thousands of company documents.
Meanwhile, McKinsey consultants recommended “cash prizes” and “unrivaled recognition” for top OxyContin sales reps to increase Purdue’s sales, according to a 2013 strategy presentation released Wednesday.
“McKinsey was advising both the fox and the hen-house — and getting paid by both,” said Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. “Clearly, McKinsey should not be setting strategy for both drug companies and the FDA.”
The report, written by the panel’s Democratic majority, suggests McKinsey’s work “appears potentially” to have violated federal contracting rules that require disclosing potential conflicts of interest.
Sternfels told the committee that McKinsey’s FDA contracts focused on “organizational support,” and did not pertain to opioids or drug “safety standards.” He also pointed to multiple examples where McKinsey disclosed its work for opioid drugmakers to the FDA.
Congressional investigators found examples of McKinsey touting its FDA connections when soliciting consulting business from drugmakers. The company also submitted advice on dealing with the opioid epidemic to members of the Trump administration, including former Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, according to the report. It’s unclear if the information had any effect on federal policy.
For decades McKinsey has been the preeminent corporate consulting firm, advising many of the world’s biggest companies on strategy and operations. The company has also made inroads into government consulting, receiving nearly $1 billion in federal contracts.
The Oversight Committee scrutinized McKinsey’s work on three dozen FDA contracts worth more than $65 million, stretching from 2008 to 2021.
At a separate Senate hearing Tuesday, the head of FDA’s drug center director told lawmakers McKinsey’s work was about “organizational design and did not entail involvement in product regulation.” The agency currently has no contracts with McKinsey, she noted.
The House report did not conclude that McKinsey’s FDA consulting resulted in lighter regulation of OxyContin or any other opioids.
For years the FDA has attempted to discourage doctors from overprescribing the drugs, mainly by adding starker warnings to their labeling. Prescriptions have fallen from their peak in 2012, but mainly due to new prescribing limits imposed by state and local governments, insurers and hospital systems.
Since announcing the $600 million opioid settlement McKinsey says it has overhauled how it vets clients and no longer consults for opioid drugmakers.


AP Writer Geoff Mulvihill contributed to this story from Cherry Hill, N.J.

Stocks regain their footing a day after big tech sell-off
April 27, 2022
By DAMIAN J. TROISE AP Business Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks shook off a wobbly start and gained ground in late morning trading on Wall Street Wednesday, after a big sell-off of tech stocks a day earlier. It’s the latest turbulence for the market as traders brace for more earnings reports from major U.S. companies this week.
The S&P 500 was up 1% as of 11:39 a.m. Eastern after shifting between gains and losses in the early going. The Nasdaq rose 0.9% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 312 points, or 0.9%, to 33,562.
It has been a volatile week for major indexes, which rallied to a strong finish late Monday only to slump on Tuesday.
Technology stocks have been the key driver through most of the week’s ups and downs. Many of the companies in the sector have pricey stock values that tend to push the market up or down with more force.
Big Tech companies had some of the biggest gains on Wednesday. Software giant Microsoft rose 6.5% after reporting strong profits for its most recent quarter. Payments processing giant Visa jumped 8.8% after reporting a surge in profits fueled by a large jump in spending on the company’s namesake credit and debit card network.
Big communications companies are also reporting their latest results. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, slipped 3.3%, after posting its slowest quarterly revenue growth since 2020.
Facebook parent, Meta Platforms, is on deck to report its results later Wednesday. Social media company Twitter and iPhone maker Apple will report their results on Thursday.
Investors were also focused on earnings from industrial companies and various retailers. Boeing slumped 7.5% after it reported a loss that was far worse than Wall Street expected. Chipotle rose 1% after reporting solid financial results.
Internet retail giant Amazon will report its results on Thursday.
The latest round of earnings comes amid lingering concerns about rising inflation and plans from central banks to raise interest rates in order to temper the impact of higher costs on businesses and consumers. Investors are closely watching to see how companies have fared amid supply chain problems and higher costs while assessing how consumers are dealing with higher prices for everything from food to clothing and gas.
The U.S. Federal Reserve is set to aggressively hike rates as it steps up its fight against inflation. The chair of the Fed has indicated the central bank may hike short-term interest rates by double the usual amount at upcoming meetings, starting next week. It has already raised its key overnight rate once, the first such increase since 2018.
Bond yields have generally been rising throughout the year as investors prepare for higher rates. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.80% from 2.77% late Tuesday.
Wall Street remains focused on inflation’s path forward amid lingering threats from Russia’s war against Ukraine and the virus pandemic.
Natural gas prices surged as much as 24% over the last day in Europe and the euro weakened after Russia said it would cut off supplies to Poland and Bulgaria. Natural gas and oil prices had already been rising as the pandemic eased and demand increased, but the Russian invasion of Ukraine has added to price increases. Crude oil and and natural gas prices have jumped so far in 2022 and that has made gasoline and heating more expensive for consumers.
Strict lockdown measures in China have also added to concerns about slowing economic growth because of damage to the world’s second-largest economy. The flow of industrial goods has been disrupted by the suspension of access to Shanghai, home of the world’s busiest port, and other industrial cities including Changchun and Jilin in northeast China.

Housing shortage, soaring rents squeeze US college students
April 26, 2022
By JANIE HAR Associated Press
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — UC Berkeley sophomore Terrell Thompson slept in his car for nearly two weeks at the start of the school year last fall, living out of a suitcase stashed in the trunk and texting dozens of landlords a day in a desperate search for a place to live.
The high-achieving student from a low-income household in Sacramento, California, was majoring in business administration at one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Yet, Thompson folded his 6-foot frame into the back seat of his Honda Accord at night, wondering how he would ever find a home in the exorbitantly expensive San Francisco Bay Area city.
“Academically it was hard, because I’m worried about finding housing and I’m worried about my clothes and I’m worried about getting my car broken into all the time,” said the 19-year-old Thompson, who now lives in a studio apartment he found last September. “I was anxious 24/7.”
College students across the U.S. are looking for housing for the 2022-23 school year and if 2021 was any indication, it won’t be easy. Students at colleges from California to Florida were denied on-campus housing last fall and found themselves sitting out the year at home or living in motel rooms or vehicles as surging rents and decades of failing to build sufficient student housing came to a head.
For some colleges, the housing crunch was related to increased demand by students who had been stuck at home during the pandemic. For others, including many in California, the shortage reflects a deeper conflict between the colleges and homeowners who don’t want new housing built for students who they say increase congestion and noise.
In March, the University of California, Berkeley, said it would have to cap student enrollment because of a lawsuit brought by irate neighbors over the school’s growth. State lawmakers fast-tracked a fix to allow the campus to enroll as many students as planned for the 2022 fall semester, but the legislation does nothing to produce more housing.
Nationally, 43% of students at four-year universities experienced housing insecurity in 2020, up from 35% in 2019, according to an annual survey conducted by The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice at Temple University. Students reported being unable to pay utilities, rent or mortgage, living in overcrowded units, or moving in with others due to financial difficulties.
And for the first time since it began tracking basic needs in 2015, the survey found an equal percentage — 14% — of students at both four-year and two-year colleges who had experienced homelessness in the last year, said Mark Huelsman, the center’s director of policy and advocacy.
“This is a function of rents rising, the inability of communities and institutions to build enough housing for students and other costs of college going up that create a perfect storm for students,” he said.
For some students, the lack of affordable housing could mean the difference between going to college or not. Others take on massive debt or live so precariously they miss out on all the extracurricular benefits of higher education.
Jonathan Dena, a first-generation college student from the Sacramento area, almost rejected UC Berkeley over the lack of housing, even though it was his “dream program.” He found a studio at the heavily subsidized Rochdale Apartments for under $1,300 a month, but he might have to move because the bare-bones units may close for a seismic renovation.
Dena, 29, wants to continue living within walking distance of campus for a robust college experience.
But the urban studies major and student government housing commission officer said “it’s kind of scary” how high rents are near campus. Online listings showed a newer one-bedroom for one person at $3,700, as well as a 240-square foot (22 square-meter) bedroom for two people sharing a bathroom for nearly $1,700 per person a month.
“If I go to school in Berkeley, I would love to live in Berkeley,” he said.
Nationally, rents have increased 17% since March 2020, said Chris Salviati, senior economist with Apartment List, but the increase has been higher in some popular college towns. Chapel Hill, North Carolina, saw a 24% jump in rents and Tempe, Arizona, saw a 31% hike.
In some cases, the rental increases have been exacerbated by a lack of on-campus housing.
Last fall, demand for on-campus housing was so high that the University of Tampa offered incoming freshmen a break on tuition if they deferred until fall 2022. Rent in the Florida city has skyrocketed nearly 30% from a year ago, according to Apartment List.
Rent in Knoxville has soared 36% since March 2020, and it could get worse after the University of Tennessee announced a new lottery system for its dorms this fall, saying it needs to prioritize housing for a larger freshman class.
Even two-year community colleges, which have not traditionally provided dorms, are rethinking student needs as the cost of housing rises.
Last October, Long Beach City College launched a pilot program to provide up to 15 homeless students space in an enclosed parking garage. They sleep in their cars and have access to bathrooms and showers, electrical outlets and internet while they work with counselors to find permanent housing.
Uduak-Joe Ntuk, president of the college’s Board of Trustees, hesitated when asked if the program will be renewed.
“I want to say no, but I think we will,” he said. “We’re going to have new students come fall semester this year that are going to be in a similar situation, and for us to do nothing is untenable.”
California prides itself on its robust higher education system, but has struggled with housing at its four-year colleges. Berkeley is notoriously difficult, with cut-throat competition for the few affordable apartments within walking distance to campus.
“I definitely was not prepared to be this stressed about housing every year,” said Jennifer Lopez, 21, a UC Berkeley senior from Cudahy, in southeastern Los Angeles County, and the first in her family to attend college.
She imagined she would spend all four years on campus in dorms, but found herself in a scramble for a safe, affordable place to sleep. The urban studies major currently splits an attic space in what is technically a one-bedroom apartment shared by four undergraduates, one of whom sleeps in the dining room.
The total monthly rent is nearly $3,700 — laughably high in most U.S. cities — but she’s grateful for it.
“If I hadn’t heard about this place, I was either going to end up living in a basement, or in this other apartment I know (where) the girls are struggling with leaks and mold,” Lopez said.
The Basic Needs Center at UC Berkeley, which operates a food pantry for students and faculty, found in a snapshot survey that a quarter of undergraduates reported they “lacked a safe, regular and adequate nighttime place to stay and sleep” at some point since October.
“That’s huge,” said Ruben Canedo, co-chair of UC’s systemwide Basic Needs Committee. “This generation of students is navigating the most expensive cost-of-living market while at the same time having the least amount of financial support accessible to them.”
Thompson, the business administration major, started looking for an apartment last May, after spending his first year at home taking classes remotely to save money. He quickly realized that his rental budget of $750 was wildly inadequate and as a second-year student, he no longer qualified for priority in the dorms.
By the time classes began in late August, he was in a panic. He tried commuting from his home in Sacramento, leaving before 6 a.m. for the 80-mile (130-kilometer) drive to Berkeley and returning home around midnight to avoid traffic.
But that was grueling so he took to sleeping in his car. Initially he parked far away in a spot without parking limits. Then he parked at a lot between two student dorm complexes closer to campus, where exuberant partying kept him up at night.
He attended classes, studied and ate sparingly to save on ballooning food costs. He looked at apartments where five people were squeezed into two bedrooms with pared-down belongings stored under beds.
He slept in his car for almost two weeks until a sympathetic landlord who had also grown up in a low-income home reached out, offering a studio within walking distance of campus. The rent is $1,000 a month, and he hopes to stay until he graduates.
“I think I have a little bit of a PTSD factor,” he said.
Most students have no idea of the housing situation when they choose to attend UC Berkeley, said 19-year-old freshman Sanaa Sodhi, and the university needs to do more to prepare students and support them in their search.
The political science major is excited to move out of the dorms and into a two-bedroom apartment where she and three friends are taking over the lease. The unit is older but a bargain at $3,000 a month, she said. The housemates were prepared to pay up to $5,200 for a safe place close to campus.
“You don’t honestly know the severity of the situation before you’re in it,” she said, adding that landlords hold all the cards. “They know that whatever price they charge, we’ll inevitably have to pay it because we don’t really have a choice except maybe to live out of our cars.”
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AP journalist Terence Chea contributed from Berkeley, California

Activist’s self-immolation stirs questions on faith, protest
April 26, 2022
By DEEPA BHARATH and COLLEEN SLEVIN Associated Press
Wynn Bruce, a 50-year-old climate activist and Buddhist, set himself on fire in front of the U.S. Supreme Court last week, prompting a national conversation about his motivation and whether he may have been inspired by Buddhist monks who self-immolated in the past to protest government atrocities.
Bruce, a photographer from Boulder, Colorado, walked up to the plaza of the Supreme Court around 6:30 p.m. Friday – on Earth Day — then sat down and set himself ablaze, a law enforcement official said. Supreme Court police officers responded immediately but were unable to extinguish the blaze in time to save him.
Investigators, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said they did not immediately locate a manifesto or note at the scene and that officials were still working to determine a motive.
On Saturday, Kritee Kanko, a Zen Buddhist priest who described herself as Bruce’s friend, shared an emotional post on her public Twitter account saying his self-immolation was “not suicide” but “a deeply fearless act of compassion to bring attention to climate crisis.”
She added that Bruce had been planning the act for at least a year. She wrote: “#wynnbruce I am so moved.” She got sympathetic responses as well as backlash.
Kanko and other members of the Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center in Boulder, released a statement Monday saying “none of the Buddhist teachers in the Boulder area knew about (Bruce’s) plans to self-immolate on this Earth Day,” and that had they known about his plan, they would have stopped him. Bruce was a frequent visitor to the Buddhist retreat center in the mountains near Boulder where he meditated with the community, Kanko said.
“We have never talked about self-immolation, and we do not think self-immolation is a climate action,” the statement said. “Nevertheless, given the dire state of the planet and worsening climate crisis, we understand why someone might do that.”
On Facebook, Bruce wrote about following the spiritual tradition of Shambhala, which combines Tibetan Buddhism with the principles of living “an uplifted life, fully engaged with the world,” according to the Boulder Shambhala Center. Bruce also posted praise for Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh, a leader of engaged Buddhism, around the time of his death in January.
Bruce’s act of sitting down and setting himself on fire was reminiscent of the events of June 11, 1963, when Thich Quang Duc, a Vietnamese monk, seated cross-legged, burned himself to death at a busy Saigon intersection. He was protesting the persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government led by Ngo Dinh Diem, a staunch Catholic.
In a letter to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr,. whom Hanh counted as a friend, Hanh wrote that he drew inspiration from the Vietnamese monk’s self-sacrifice, saying: “To burn oneself by fire is to prove what one is saying is of the utmost importance. There is nothing more painful than burning oneself. To say something while experiencing this kind of pain is to say it with utmost courage, frankness, determination and sincerity.”
In Tibet, anti-Chinese activists have employed self-immolation as a form of protest. The International Campaign for Tibet says 131 men and 28 women – monks, nuns and laypeople among them – have self-immolated since 2009 to protest against Beijing’s strict controls over the region and their religion.
Buddhism as a religion does not unilaterally condone the act of self-immolation or taking one’s life, said Robert Barnett, a London-based researcher of modern Tibetan history and politics.
“Killing yourself is considered damaging in Buddhism because life is precious,” he said. “But if a person self-immolates because of a higher motivation and it’s not out of a negative emotion such as depression or sadness, then the Buddhist position becomes far more complex.”
If self-immolation is done to help the world, it might be accepted as a positive action, Barnett said. He cited a story from the “Jataka Tales,” a body of South Asian literature concerning the prior incarnations of the Buddha in human and animal form. In that particular tale, an incarnation of the Buddha, in an act of selfless compassion, offers himself to an emaciated tigress who was so hungry that she was ready to devour her own cubs.
“But that kind of self-sacrifice is not encouraged, developed or talked about for normal people (other than the Buddha),” he said, adding that this is because of “the immense difficulty of cultivating positive motivation in any situation, let alone maintaining it under stress or in conditions of extreme pain.”
Buddhism emphasizes emotional balance, inclusiveness, kindness, compassion and wisdom, said Roshi Joan Halifax, an environmental activist and abbot of the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
“What we’re seeing today among many people is hopelessness,” she said. “What we are called to do is not to be disabled by that sense of futility, but to transform our moral suffering into wise hope and courageous action.”
Despite the pessimism that some climate activists may feel, there is reason to remain hopeful, Halifax said.
“You see that people are waking up to the magnitude of the climate catastrophe,” she said, noting that countries and corporations are moving away from damaging practices and toward clean energy.
“I feel inspired and hopeful by our ability to change and adapt in this ever-changing world,” she said. “My heart is heavy that (Bruce) did not have that kind of optimism.”
Those who knew Bruce saw a man who was kind, playful and idealistic – an avid dancer who participated in weekly events. He was also known for biking and embracing public transportation.
Bruce, who enjoyed the outdoors, brought an intensity to whatever he did, said his friend Jeffry Buechler. On Buechler’s wedding day in 2014, Bruce, on a whim, decided to go for a dip in a cold mountain lake early in the morning, he said.
Bruce also suffered lasting effects from a brain injury he sustained in a car wreck that killed his best friend about 30 years ago, Buechler said.
Marco DeGaetano, who met Bruce in the 1990s when they both attended a Universalist church in Denver, said “Wynn seemed to have an affinity for people who needed help.”
He recalled Bruce being kind to a church member with a mental illness when others distanced themselves.
DeGaetano said he last saw Bruce about a month ago, and he seemed outgoing and friendly as always — every time he saw Bruce, “he had a smile on his face.”


Bharath reported from Los Angeles and Slevin from Denver. Associated Press writer Michael Balsamo in Washington D.C. and researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York also contributed.


Associated Press religion coverage receives support through the AP’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

Jurors reject array of defenses at Capitol riot trials
April 25, 2022
By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN Associated Press
Jurors have heard — and rejected — an array of excuses and arguments from the first rioters to be tried for storming the U.S. Capitol. The next jury to get a Capitol riot case could hear another novel defense this week at the trial of a retired New York City police officer.
Thomas Webster, a 20-year veteran of the NYPD, has claimed he was acting in self-defense when he tackled a police officer who was trying to protect the Capitol from a mob on Jan. 6, 2021. Webster’s lawyer also has argued that he was exercising his First Amendment free speech rights when he shouted profanities at police that day. Jury selection began on Monday and is expected to last most of the day.
Webster, 56, is the fourth Capitol riot defendant to get a jury trial. Each has presented a distinct line of defense.
An Ohio man who stole a coat rack from a Capitol office testified he was “following presidential orders” from Donald Trump. An off-duty police officer from Virginia claimed he only entered the Capitol to retrieve a fellow officer. A lawyer for a Texas man who confronted Capitol police accused prosecutors of rushing to judgment against somebody prone to exaggerating.
Those defenses didn’t sway the juries at their respective trials. Collectively, a total of 36 jurors unanimously convicted the three rioters of all 17 counts in their indictments.
Webster faces the same fate if a federal judge’s blistering words are any guide. U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta, who will preside over Webster’s trial, has described his videotaped conduct as “among the most indefensible and reprehensible” that the judge has seen among Jan. 6 cases, with “no real defense for it.”
“You were a police officer and you should have known better,” Mehta told Webster during a bond hearing last June, according to a transcript.
But a dozen jurors, not the judge, will decide the case against Webster, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who retired from the NYPD in 2011.
A wealth of video evidence and self-incriminating behavior by riot defendants has given prosecutors the upper hand in many cases. Mary McCord, a Georgetown University Law Center professor and former Justice Department official, said jurors often won’t have to rely on witness testimony or circumstantial evidence because videos captured much of the violence and destruction on Jan. 6.
“When I was a prosecutor trying cases, I would have loved to have had cases where the entire crime was on video. That just doesn’t happen that often. But for jurors, it can be very powerful,” she said.
Webster’s trial is the sixth overall. In a pair of bench trials, a different federal judge heard testimony without a jury before acquitting one defendant and partially acquitting another.
U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, a Trump nominee who acquitted Matthew Martin of all charges, said it was reasonable for the New Mexico man to believe that police allowed him to enter the Capitol. In the first bench trial, McFadden convicted New Mexico elected official Couy Griffin of illegally entering restricted Capitol grounds but acquitted him of engaging in disorderly conduct.
Stephen Saltzburg, a George Washington Law School professor and former Justice Department official, said it may be difficult for prosecutors to secure convictions against defendants who merely entered the Capitol and didn’t exhibit any violent or destructive behavior.
“I think the people with the best chances are those who say, ‘I was just there and I got swept up with everybody else.’ The government is going to have to have some way to show there’s more than that or the government will lose,” Saltzburg said.
Webster brought a gun and a Marine Corps flag attached to a metal pole when he traveled alone to Washington from his home in Florida, New York, a village approximately 70 miles northwest of New York City. He wore his NYPD-issued bulletproof vest but says he left the pistol in his hotel room when he headed to the Jan. 6 rally where Trump spoke.
Police body camera video captured Webster’s confrontation outside the Capitol with a line of officers, including one identified only as “Officer N.R.” in court papers.
The unnamed Metropolitan Police Department officer described the encounter in a written statement. The officer said Webster swung the flagpole at him in a downward chopping motion, hitting a metal barricade, then charged at him with clenched fists.
“He pushed me to the ground and attempted to violently tear away my gas mask and ballistic helmet. This caused me to choke and gasp for air before another participant at the riot helped me to my feet,” the officer wrote.
The officer said he retreated behind a police line after Webster pinned him to the ground.
“His actions, attack and targeted assault caused me to fear for my life and could have easily left my wife and two small children without a husband and father,” the officer wrote.
Defense attorney James Monroe has claimed the unnamed officer gestured toward Webster, “inviting him to engage in a fight,” before reaching over a police barrier and punching Webster in his face. Webster “used that amount of force he reasonably believed necessary to protect himself” by tackling the officer to the ground, Monroe said in a court filing.
Mehta, however, said the video doesn’t show Webster getting punched in the face. The judge described Webster as an instigator.
“It was his conduct that sort of broke the dam, at least in that area,” Mehta added.
Webster, now a self-employed landscaper, enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1985, was honorably discharged in 1989 and joined the NYPD in 1991. His department service included a stint on then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s private security detail.
Monroe claimed “Officer N.R.” had reached over a metal barrier and pushed a “peaceful” man who was blinded by pepper spray.
“As a former U.S. Marine and a member of law enforcement, Mr. Webster’s moral instinct was to protect the innocent,” Monroe wrote.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Hava Mirell has argued that Webster should be held to a higher standard given his professional experience.
“If he were there to protect the innocent, then he should have been fending other rioters off from the barricade, not the other way around,” Mirell said at the bond hearing.
Webster faces six counts, including assaulting, resisting or impeding an officer using a dangerous weapon. He’s the first Capitol riot defendant to be tried on an assault charge. He isn’t accused of entering the Capitol.
More than 780 people have been charged with riot-related federal crimes. The Justice Department says over 245 of them have been charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement. More than 250 riot defendants have pleaded guilty, mostly to nonviolent misdemeanors.
Jurors convicted two rioters of interfering with officers. One of them, Thomas Robertson, was an off-duty police officer from Rocky Mount, Virginia. The other, Texas resident Guy Wesley Reffitt, also was convicted of storming the Capitol with a holstered handgun.
The third Capitol rioter to be convicted by a jury was Dustin Byron Thompson, an Ohio man who said he was following Trump’s orders.
“Even if jurors accepted that (Thompson) felt like he was doing what the former president wanted, that still wouldn’t be a legal excuse,” said McCord, the Georgetown professor. “When juries are able to witness what happened, they can make that assessment relatively easily.”

Twitter in talks with Musk over bid to buy platform
April 25, 2022
The Associated Press undefined
Twitter’s board is negotiating with Tesla CEO Elon Musk over his bid to buy the social media platform and a deal could be announced as early as Monday, according to media reports.
Twitter and Musk spoke into the early hours Monday, The New York Times reported, less than two weeks after the billionaire first revealed a massive stake in the company.
Musk said last week that he had lined up $46.5 billion in financing to buy Twitter, putting pressure on the company’s board to negotiate a deal.
The Times, citing people with knowledge of the situation who it did not identify, said the two sides were discussing details including a timeline and fees if an agreement was signed and then fell apart. The people said the situation was fluid and fast-moving.
Shares of Twitter Inc. rose 3% Monday.
Twitter had enacted an anti-takeover measure known as a poison pill that could make a takeover attempt prohibitively expensive. But the board decided to negotiate after Musk updated his proposal to show he had secured financing, according to The Wall Street Journal, which was first to report the negotiations were underway.
Musk has said he wants to buy Twitter because he doesn’t feel it’s living up to its potential as a platform for free speech. Twitter, he said, “needs to be transformed as a private company” in order to build trust with users and do better at serving what he calls the “societal imperative” of free speech.
Musk has described himself as a “free-speech absolutist” but is also known for blocking or disparaging other Twitter users who question or disagree with him.
In recent weeks, he has voiced a number of proposed changes for the company, from relaxing its content restrictions — such as the rules that suspended former President Donald Trump’s account — to ridding the platform of fake and automated accounts.
A rival bidder to Musk may not be stepping up any time soon, fearful of the byzantine task of moderating content on the platform, something that Musk has vowed to do less of.
“The Twitter Board could not find a white knight and with Musk’s financing detailed the clock has essentially struck midnight for the board which is why negotiations have begun to get a deal done,” said Dan Ives, who follows Twitter for Wedbush Securities.
While Twitter’s user base remains much smaller than those of rivals such as Facebook and TikTok, the service is popular with celebrities, world leaders, journalists and intellectuals. Musk himself has more than 81 million followers, rivaling pop stars such as Lady Gaga.
On April 14, Musk announced an offer to buy the social media platform for $54.20 per share, or about $43 billion, but did not say at the time how he would finance the acquisition.
Last week, he said in documents filed with U.S. securities regulators that the money would come from Morgan Stanley and other banks, some of it secured by his huge stake in the electric car maker.
Twitter has not commented.
Musk is the world’s wealthiest person, according to Forbes, with a nearly $279 billion fortune. But much of his money is tied up in Tesla stock — he owns about 17% of the company, according to FactSet, which is valued at more than $1 trillion — and SpaceX, his privately held space company. It’s unclear how much cash Musk has.
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AP Business Writer Kelvin Chan reported from London.

Stocks fall, as Wall Street heads for another losing week
April 22, 2022
By STAN CHOE AP Business Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are slipping again on Friday as the sharp, recent surge for interest rates keeps weighing on Wall Street.
The S&P 500 was 0.8% lower in early trading and on pace to close out a third straight losing week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 389 points, or 1.1%, at 34,403, as of 10:15 a.m. Eastern time, and the Nasdaq composite was 0.3% lower.
A day earlier, Wall Street seemed set for healthy gains for the week after American Airlines, Tesla and other big companies reported strong profits or better forecasts for future earnings than analysts expected. But the S&P 500 swung from a gain to a loss as the chair of the Federal Reserve indicated it may indeed hike short-term interest rates by double the usual amount at upcoming meetings, starting in two weeks.
The Fed has already raised its key overnight rate once, the first such increase since 2018, as it aggressively removes the tremendous aid thrown at the economy and financial markets through the pandemic. It’s also preparing other moves to put upward pressure on longer-term rates. By making it more expensive for businesses and households to borrow, the higher rates are meant to slow the economy, which should hopefully halt the worst inflation in generations. But they can also trigger a recession, all while putting downward pressure on most kinds of investments.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury is at 2.89%, down from 2.91% late Thursday, but still close to its highest level since 2018. It began the year at 1.51%.
The two-year yield, which moves more on expectations for Fed action on short-term rates, has zoomed even more. It’s at 2.74%, up from 2.68% late Thursday, and has more than tripled from 0.73% at the start of the year.
Markets around the world are feeling similar pressure on rates and inflation, particularly in Europe as the war in Ukraine pushes up oil, gas and food costs.
Germany’s DAX lost 1.9% Friday, while France’s CAC 40 fell 1.9%. The FTSE 100 in London slipped 0.9%.
Beyond developments in Ukraine, a presidential runoff election in France this weekend could also tilt markets.
In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 1.6%, and South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.9%. Stocks in Shanghai added 0.2% after authorities there promised to ease anti-virus controls on truck drivers that are hampering food supplies and trade.
Despite all the worries about inflation and interest rates, stronger-than-expected profits from most big U.S. companies are continuing to offer support for Wall Street.
Kimberly-Clark, the manufacturer whose brands include Huggies diapers and Kleenex, rose 8.8% for one of the biggest gains in the S&P 500 after it reported stronger profit and revenue for the latest quarter than analysts expected.
SVB Financial surged 13.5% after also reporting stronger arnings per share than expected.
But most stocks across Wall Street were falling Friday, with health care stocks among the biggest weights.
HCA Healthcare slumped 14.8% after reporting weaker earnings per share than analysts expected.
Retailer Gap fell 19.2% after it cut its forecast for sales and said the CEO of its Old Navy business will leave the company.


AP Business Writer Yuri Kageyama contributed.

Till relatives seek accuser’s prosecution in 1955 kidnapping
April 22, 2022
By JAY REEVES Associated Press
Stymied in their calls for a renewed investigation into the killing of Emmett Till, relatives and activists are advocating another possible path toward accountability in Mississippi: They want authorities to launch a kidnapping prosecution against the woman who set off the lynching by accusing the Black Chicago teen of improper advances in 1955.
Carolyn Bryant Donham was named nearly 67 years ago in a warrant that accused her in Till’s abduction, even before his mangled body was found in a river, FBI records show, yet she was never arrested or brought to trial in a case that shocked the world for its brutality.
Authorities at the time said the woman had two young children and they did not want to bother her. Donham’s then-husband and another man were acquitted of murder.
Make no mistake: Relatives of Till still prefer a murder prosecution. But there is no evidence the kidnapping warrant was ever dismissed, so it could be used to arrest Donham and finally get her before a criminal court, said Jaribu Hill, an attorney working with the Till family.
“This warrant is a stepping stone toward that,” she said. “Because warrants do not expire, we want to see that warrant served on her.”
There are plenty of roadblocks. Witnesses have died in the decades since Till was lynched, and it’s unclear what happened to evidence collected by investigators. Even the location of the original warrant is a mystery. It could be in boxes of old courthouse records in Leflore County, Mississippi, where the abduction occurred.
A relative of Till said it’s long past time for someone to arrest Donham in Till’s kidnapping, if not for the slaying itself.
“Mississippi is not the Mississippi of 1955, but it seems to still carry some of that era of protecting the white woman,” said Deborah Watts, a distant cousin of Till who runs the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation.
Now in her late 80s and most recently living in Raleigh, North Carolina, Donham has not commented publicly on calls for her prosecution. She did not seem to know she had been named in an arrest warrant in Till’s abduction until decades later, said Dale Killinger, a retired FBI agent who questioned her more than 15 years ago.
“I think she didn’t recall it,” he said. “She acted surprised.”
The Justice Department closed its most recent investigation of the killing in December, when the agency said Donham had denied an author’s claim that she had recanted her claims about Till doing something improper to her in the store where she worked in the town of Money. The writer could not produce any recordings or transcripts to back up the allegation, authorities said.
Till relatives met in March with officials including District Attorney Dewayne Richardson, the lead prosecutor in Leflore County, but left unsatisfied, Watts said. “There doesn’t seem to be the determination or courage to do what needs to be done,” she said.
Richardson has been in office for about 15 years and was the first Black person to serve as president of the Mississippi Prosecutors Association. He did not return phone messages or emails seeking comment about a potential kidnapping case.
Keith Beauchamp, a filmmaker whose documentary “The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till” preceded a renewed Justice Department probe that ended without charges in 2007, said there’s enough evidence to prosecute Donham.
“If we’re saying we are a country of truth and justice, we must get truth and justice … no matter the age or gender of the person involved,'” said Beauchamp.
Stories about the events that led to Till’s killing have varied through the years, but the woman known at the time as Carolyn Bryant was always at the center of it, said author Devery Anderson, who obtained original FBI files on the case while researching his 2015 book “Emmett Till: The Murder That Shocked the World and Propelled the Civil Rights Movement.”
Till was a 14-year-old from Chicago visiting relatives in Mississippi when he entered the store on Aug. 24, 1955; Donham, then 21, was working inside. A Till relative who was there at the time, Wheeler Parker, told The Associated Press that Till whistled at the woman. Donham testified that Till grabbed her.
Two nights later, Donham’s then-husband, Roy Bryant, and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, showed up armed at the rural home of Till’s great-uncle, Mose Wright, looking for the youth.
Wright testified in 1955 that a person with a voice “lighter” than a man’s identified Till from inside a pickup truck and the abductors took him away. Other evidence in FBI files indicates that earlier that night, Donham told her husband that at least two other Black men were not the right person.
Authorities already had obtained warrants charging the two men and Donham with kidnapping before Till’s body was found in the Tallahatchie River, FBI files show, but police never arrested Donham.
“We aren’t going to bother the woman,” Leflore County Sheriff George Smith told reporters, “she’s got two small boys to take care of.”
Roy Bryant and Milam were quickly indicted on murder charges and they were acquitted by an all-white jury in Tallahatchie County about two weeks later.
Grand jurors in neighboring Leflore County refused to indict the men on kidnapping charges afterward, effectively ending the threat of prosecution for Roy Bryant and Milam. Both men have been dead for decades, leaving Donham as the lone survivor who was directly involved.
Killinger, the retired federal agent, said he saw neither the original warrant during his investigation nor any indication that it was ever canceled by a court, and it’s unclear whether it could be used today to arrest or try Donham. Even if authorities located the original paperwork with sworn statements detailing evidence, he said, courts need witnesses to testify.
“And it’s my understanding that all those people are dead,” Killinger said.


Reeves is a member of AP’s Race and Ethnicity team.

13 Nassar victims seeking $130M from FBI over bungled probe
April 21, 2022
By ED WHITE Associated Press
DETROIT (AP) — Thirteen sexual assault victims of Larry Nassar are seeking $10 million each from the FBI, claiming a bungled investigation by agents led to more abuse by the sports doctor, lawyers said Thursday.
It’s an effort to make the government responsible for assaults that occurred after July 2015. The Justice Department’s inspector general concluded last year that the FBI made fundamental errors when it became aware of allegations against Nassar that year.
Nassar was a Michigan State University sports doctor as well as a doctor at USA Gymnastics. He is serving decades in prison for assaulting female athletes, including medal-winning Olympic gymnasts.
“This was not a case involving fake 20 dollar bills or tax cheats,” attorney Jamie White said. “These were allegations of a serial rapist who was known to the FBI as the Olympic U.S. doctor with unfettered access to young women.”
Nassar, he added, continued a “reign of terror for 17 unnecessary months.”
An email seeking comment was sent to the FBI.
White is not suing the FBI yet. Under federal law, tort claims must be a filed with a government agency, which then has six months to reply. A lawsuit could follow, depending on the FBI’s response.
“No one should have been assaulted after the summer of 2015 because the FBI should have done its job,” said Grace French, founder of a group called The Army of Survivors. “To know that the FBI could have helped to avoid this trauma disgusts me.”
White noted the 2018 massacre at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The FBI received a tip about five weeks before 17 people were killed at the school, but the tip was never forwarded to the FBI’s South Florida office. The government agreed to pay $127.5 million to families of those killed or injured.
In the Nassar case, Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics told local FBI agents in 2015 that three gymnasts said they were assaulted by Nassar. But the FBI did not open a formal investigation or inform federal or state authorities in Michigan, according to the inspector general’s report.
Los Angeles FBI agents in 2016 began a sexual tourism investigation against Nassar and interviewed several victims but also didn’t alert Michigan authorities, the inspector general said.
White said more than 100 women were assaulted after July 2015, and he expects other lawyers will file claims against the FBI. Nassar wasn’t arrested until November 2016 during an investigation by Michigan State University police.
FBI Director Christopher Wray has said he’s “deeply and profoundly sorry” for delays in Nassar’s prosecution and the pain it caused.
The Michigan attorney general’s office ultimately handled the assault charges, while federal prosecutors in Grand Rapids, Michigan, filed a child pornography case against Nassar.
Michigan State University agreed to pay $500 million to more than 300 women and girls who were assaulted. USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee made a $380 million settlement.
13 Nassar victims seeking $130M from FBI over bungled probe
By ED WHITE Associated Press
DETROIT (AP) — Thirteen sexual assault victims of Larry Nassar are seeking $10 million each from the FBI, claiming a bungled investigation by agents led to more abuse by the sports doctor, lawyers said Thursday.
It’s an effort to make the government responsible for assaults that occurred after July 2015. The Justice Department’s inspector general concluded last year that the FBI made fundamental errors when it became aware of allegations against Nassar that year.
Nassar was a Michigan State University sports doctor as well as a doctor at USA Gymnastics. He is serving decades in prison for assaulting female athletes, including medal-winning Olympic gymnasts.
“This was not a case involving fake 20 dollar bills or tax cheats,” attorney Jamie White said. “These were allegations of a serial rapist who was known to the FBI as the Olympic U.S. doctor with unfettered access to young women.”
Nassar, he added, continued a “reign of terror for 17 unnecessary months.”
An email seeking comment was sent to the FBI.
White is not suing the FBI yet. Under federal law, tort claims must be a filed with a government agency, which then has six months to reply. A lawsuit could follow, depending on the FBI’s response.
“No one should have been assaulted after the summer of 2015 because the FBI should have done its job,” said Grace French, founder of a group called The Army of Survivors. “To know that the FBI could have helped to avoid this trauma disgusts me.”
White noted the 2018 massacre at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The FBI received a tip about five weeks before 17 people were killed at the school, but the tip was never forwarded to the FBI’s South Florida office. The government agreed to pay $127.5 million to families of those killed or injured.
In the Nassar case, Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics told local FBI agents in 2015 that three gymnasts said they were assaulted by Nassar. But the FBI did not open a formal investigation or inform federal or state authorities in Michigan, according to the inspector general’s report.
Los Angeles FBI agents in 2016 began a sexual tourism investigation against Nassar and interviewed several victims but also didn’t alert Michigan authorities, the inspector general said.
White said more than 100 women were assaulted after July 2015, and he expects other lawyers will file claims against the FBI. Nassar wasn’t arrested until November 2016 during an investigation by Michigan State University police.
FBI Director Christopher Wray has said he’s “deeply and profoundly sorry” for delays in Nassar’s prosecution and the pain it caused.
The Michigan attorney general’s office ultimately handled the assault charges, while federal prosecutors in Grand Rapids, Michigan, filed a child pornography case against Nassar.
Michigan State University agreed to pay $500 million to more than 300 women and girls who were assaulted. USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee made a $380 million settlement.


For more stories on Larry Nassar and the fallout from his years of sexual abusing young women and girls: https://www.apnews.com/LarryNassar

Strong winds could lead to explosive fire growth in West
April 21, 2022
By FELICIA FONSECA Associated Press
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Lisa Wells looked out the window of her home office and saw a plume of smoke. Before long, the smoke blackened, the wind intensified and entire trees were consumed by flames.
In what felt like seconds, her family moved Tuesday from a get-ready-to-go status to go now. She managed to gather important medication and move their horses, alpacas and dogs to safety.
The home they bought 15 years ago on the outskirts of Flagstaff didn’t survive. Fierce winds picked up embers that hopscotched across neighborhoods, destroying some homes and leaving others unscathed.
“It was a miracle that people got out because we had so little time,” Wells said Wednesday, standing in a parking lot that has become a gathering spot for the evacuated communities.
Neither officials nor residents have been able to fully survey the damage, partly because the forecast has even stronger winds in store that experts say could lead to more explosive fire growth.
And the risk isn’t limited to Arizona. The 32-square-mile (83-square kilometer) blaze outside Flagstaff is one of a half-dozen major wildfires that have raced across Arizona and New Mexico the last few days.
Red flag warnings of critical fire conditions were issued Thursday for much of northern Arizona, including the Flagstaff area, and large portions of New Mexico as state and federal officials scrambled to get more crews on the front lines.
With expected wind conditions, “it will prove challenging to put in those containment lines to stop fire growth,” said Jerolyn Byrne, a spokesperson for the team working the Flagstaff-area fire. “We’ll see some growth on the fire.”
At a community meeting in Flagstaff on Wednesday evening, Brian Klimowski of the National Weather Service declared the start of the fire season and said “it’s going to be a long one this year.”
Hundreds of people have been evacuated because of wildfires burning in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado. Popular lakes and national monuments have been closed — some because fire has moved directly over them.
U.S. 89, the main route between Flagstaff and far northern Arizona, and communities on the Navajo Nation, remained closed.
Resources to fight the wildfires are tight. Four of the 16 top-level national fire management teams are dedicated to the Southwest — something fire information officer Dick Fleishman said is rare for April.
In Flagstaff, erratic winds have grounded air resources.
Residents around Flagstaff questioned how a small blaze reported northeast of the college town Sunday afternoon ballooned to more than 30 square miles (77 square kilometers) by Wednesday afternoon. Matt McGrath, a district ranger on the Coconino National Forest, said firefighters had corralled the wildfire Sunday and didn’t see any smoke or active flames when they checked on it again Monday.
By Tuesday, the wind was firmly in control. Flames emerged and jumped the containment line, leaving firefighters and McGrath to ask themselves if they could have done something differently, he said.
“I can’t tell you for sure, but I don’t think so,” McGrath said. “And I know that’s not a satisfying answer when people are going through what they’re going through right now.”
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Another fire in northern New Mexico also has burned more than 30 square miles (77 square kilometers), but it’s in a rural area where no structures have been destroyed and a small number of evacuations ordered.
The fire danger also remained high in southern Colorado, where a wildfire destroyed an unknown number of homes on Wednesday in Monte Vista, a community of about 4,150 people surrounded by farm fields. Despite strong winds, firefighters stopped the fire from spreading by the evening but hot spots remained.
The number of acres burned in the U.S. so far this year is about 30% above the 10-year average, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation have combined with spring winds to elevate the chances for more catastrophic fires.
The fire season has become year-round given changing conditions that include earlier snowmelt and rain coming later in the fall, scientist have said. The problems are exacerbated by decades of fire suppression and poor forest management along with a more than 20-year Western megadrought that studies link to human-caused climate change.
Rocky Opliger, the incident commander on a wildfire that has burned about 3 square miles (7 square kilometers) and forced evacuations south of Prescott, Arizona, said the conditions are some of the worst he’s seen in nearly five decades of fighting wildland fires.
“This is very early to have this kind of fire behavior,” he said. “Right now we are on the whims of weather.”
About 25 structures have been lost in the Flagstaff-area fire. Coconino County officials late Wednesday pointed residents to a system where they could seek help with food, temporary housing and other needs. Some 765 homes were evacuated.
Wells described her home as unique and quirky, with horizontal studs held together by tongue-and-groove boards. Her husband, Bill, had been remodeling it little by little.
The wildfire reduced it to ashes and also destroyed a barn, although it spared a guest house where her daughter’s family lived on the same property.
The only thing they’ve been able to recover from the ashes was a gray porcelain dove that Bill Wells gave his wife as a gift. It was part of a set of collectibles.
“It was the only thing we found so far, but it means a lot, and we will keep it,” said Lisa Wells, holding the item.
She thought, too, about the decades of photographs she left behind and the baby grand piano that was built in 1890 that her grandmother, who was an opera singer, gave her. Those are gone, too.
“It’s just stuff, you realize it’s all just stuff and what’s important is your family,” she said, holding her blue heeler, Bandit, on a leash. “We think day to day, we know it will all work out.”


Associated Press writers Paul Davenport in Phoenix, Susan Montoya Bryan in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Scott Sonner in Reno, Nevada, and Colleen Slevin in Denver contributed to this report.

Ohio doctor found not guilty in 14 hospital patient deaths
April 20, 2022
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A jury on Wednesday acquitted an Ohio doctor accused of ordering excessive amounts of painkillers that led to multiple patient deaths at a Columbus-area hospital following a weekslong trial.
Dr. William Husel was accused of ordering the drugs for 14 patients in the Mount Carmel Health System. He was indicted in cases that involved at least 500 micrograms of the powerful painkiller fentanyl.
Prosecutors said ordering such dosages for a nonsurgical situation indicated an intent to end lives. Husel’s attorneys argued he was providing comfort care for dying patients, not trying to kill them.
Franklin County Judge Michael Holbrook told jurors before the start of deliberations that they could also consider lesser charges of attempted murder. They deliberated for six days.
Husel would have faced a sentence of life in prison with parole eligibility in 15 years had he been found guilty of just one count of murder.
Prosecutors presented their case beginning Feb. 22 and put on 53 prosecution witnesses before resting on March 29. Those witnesses included medical experts who testified that Husel ordered up to 20 times as much fentanyl as was necessary to control pain.
Husel gave enough fentanyl to some patients to “kill an elephant,” testified Dr. Wes Ely, a physician and professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University.
Other prosecution witnesses included medical experts, Mount Carmel employees, investigators, and family members of all 14 patients.
By contrast, defense lawyers called a single witness — a Georgia anesthesiologist — to testify that Husel’s patients died from their medical conditions and not Husel’s actions. The defense rested on March 31 after one day.
The age of the patients who died ranged from 37 to 82. The first patient death was in May 2015. The last three died in November 2018.
During closing arguments April 11, David Zeyen, an assistant Franklin County prosecutor, told jurors that regardless of how close a patient is to death, it’s illegal to speed up the process.
Husel attorney Jose Baez said prosecutors hadn’t produced “a shred of evidence” to back up their claims.
Husel was fired by the Mount Carmel Health System. It concluded he had ordered excessive painkillers for about three dozen patients who died over several years. He was initially charged with 25 murder counts, but the judge agreed to dismiss 11 of those counts in January.
Husel’s colleagues who administered the medications weren’t criminally charged, but the hospital system said it fired 23 nurses, pharmacists and managers after its internal investigation and referred various employees to their respective state boards for possible disciplinary action.
Mount Carmel has reached settlements totaling more than $16.7 million over the deaths of at least 17 patients, with more lawsuits pending.
One patient, 82-year-old Melissa Penix, was given 2,000 micrograms of fentanyl and died a few minutes later. Dr. John Schweig of Tampa Bay General Hospital testified for the prosecution that Penix “definitely was not terminal, nor was continuing medical care futile.”
“She was a fighter,” said Penix’s daughter, Bev Leonhard, of Grove City, according to The Columbus Dispatch. “She didn’t deserve to die the way she did.”

Arizona wildfire doubles in size near college town
April 20, 2022
By FELICIA FONSECA Associated Press
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — An Arizona wildfire doubled in size overnight into Wednesday, a day after heavy winds kicked up a towering wall of flames outside a northern Arizona tourist and college town, ripping through two-dozen structures and sending residents of more than 700 homes scrambling to flee.
Flames as high as 100 feet (30 meters) on Tuesday raced through an area of scattered homes, dry grass and Ponderosa pine trees in a rural area on the outskirts of Flagstaff as wind gusts of up to 50 mph (80 kph) pushed the blaze over a major highway.
Weather conditions were more favorable Wednesday with light breezes before a return to stronger winds Thursday “approaching a critical level,” said Mark Stubblefield, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Flagstaff.
No significant precipitation is in the forecast into next week, Stubblefield said.
Coconino County officials said during a Tuesday evening news conference that 766 homes and 1,000 animals had been evacuated. About 250 structures remained threatened in the area popular with hikers and off-road vehicle users and where astronauts have trained amid volcanic cinder pits.
The county declared an emergency after the wildfire ballooned from 100 acres (40 hectares) Tuesday morning to over 9 square miles (23 square kilometers) by evening and to 26 square miles (67 square kilometers) by Wednesday morning.
The fire was moving northeast away from the more heavily populated areas of Flagstaff, home to Northern Arizona University, and toward Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, said Coconino National Forest spokesman Brady Smith.
“It’s good in that it’s not headed toward a very populated area, and it’s headed toward less fuel,” Smith said. “But depending on the intensity of the fire, fire can still move across cinders.”
Authorities won’t be able to determine whether anyone was injured in the wildfire until the flames subside. Firefighters and law enforcement officers went door to door telling people to evacuate but had to pull out to avoid getting boxed in, said Coconino County Sheriff Jim Driscoll.
He said his office got a call about a man who was trapped inside his house, but firefighters couldn’t get to him.
“We don’t know if he made it out or not,” Driscoll said.
Various organizations worked to set up shelters for evacuees and animals, including goats and horses.
The scene was all too familiar for residents who recalled rushing to pack their bags and flee a dozen years ago when a much larger wildfire burned in the same area.
“This time was different, right there in your backyard,” said Kathy Vollmer, a resident.
She said she and her husband grabbed their three dogs but left a couple of cats behind as they faced what she described as a “wall of fire.”
“We just hope they are going to be OK,” she said.
Earlier in the day, the wildfire shut down U.S. 89, the main route between Flagstaff and far northern Arizona, and communities on the Navajo Nation. The high winds grounded aircraft that could drop water and fire retardant on the blaze.
Arizona Public Service Co., the state’s largest utility, shut off power to about 625 customers to keep firefighters safe, a spokeswoman said.
About 200 firefighters were battling the flames, but more are expected as a top-level national management team takes over later this week.
The fire started Sunday afternoon 14 miles (22 kilometers) northeast of Flagstaff. Investigators don’t know yet what caused it and have yet to corral any part of the blaze.
Ali Taranto rushed to Flagstaff from Winslow, where she works at a hospital, on Tuesday to check on a property she owns that was threatened by the wildfire. She also was getting messages to check on a neighbor whom she found didn’t have access to oxygen while the power was out and didn’t have the strength to manually open her garage door to evacuate.
Taranto said the neighbor was “disoriented and gasping for air” when she reached her. Firefighters in the area helped get the garage door open and the neighbor to the hospital, she said. Taranto was looking for a shelter for the neighbor’s two dogs.
By the time Taranto left the area, the highway into Flagstaff was shut down and she had to drive an extra two hours back home. At least two other neighbors didn’t evacuate, she said.
“To see flames several yards away from your property line and to hear the propane tanks bursting in the background, it was very surreal,” Taranto said. “Ash falling down. It was crazy.”
Red flag warnings blanketed much of New Mexico on Wednesday, indicating conditions are ripe for wildfires. Residents in northern New Mexico’s Mora and San Miguel counties were warned to be ready to evacuate as wildfires burned there amid dry, warm and windy conditions.
The National Interagency Fire Center reported Wednesday that over 2,300 wildland firefighters and support personnel were assigned to more than a dozen large wildfires in the Southwestern, Southern and Rocky Mountain areas. Scientists say climate change has made the U.S. West much warmer and drier in the past 30 years and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive.
Elsewhere in Arizona, firefighters battled a wildfire in a sparsely populated area of the Prescott National Forest, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) south of Prescott.
Cory Carlson, the incident commander with the Prescott National Forest, said late Tuesday afternoon the high winds have been the biggest challenge, sending embers into the air that sparked new spot fires near State Route 261, along with the demand for crews at other fires.
“We do have a lack of resources,” he said. “There’s a lot of fires in the region.”


Associated Press writer Paul Davenport in Phoenix, Susan Montoya Bryan in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Scott Sonner in Reno, Nevada, contributed to this report.


On Tax Day, an extension may be better than rushing a return
April 18, 2022
By FATIMA HUSSEIN Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Monday is Tax Day — the federal deadline for individual tax filing and payments — and the IRS expects to receive tens of millions of last-minute filings electronically and through paper forms.
As of April 8, the IRS had received more than 103 million returns for this tax season, and it had issued more than 63 million refunds worth more than $204 billion.
For comparison, last year more than 169 million people completed an income tax return by the end of the year. That probably leaves nearly 40% of this year’s taxpayers still unaccounted for, with many scrambling to submit their documents by Monday.
Nina Tross, executive director of the National Society of Tax Professionals, said that if people haven’t filed their taxes by now, “they’re better off filing an extension.”
But, she added, “People don’t realize that filing an extension has zero effect” as long as they have paid their income taxes by Tax Day.
“An extension is merely filing a return at a later date,” Tross said. “If you rush through a return to get it out the door, and you have to amend it later, you’re more likely to get a double look from the IRS.”
“You’re much better off extending than amending,” she said.
The IRS this year is facing its biggest backlog in history. At the end of the 2021 filing season, the agency had 35.3 million returns waiting for processing. One reason is that every paper document that goes into the IRS is processed by a human, according to the IRS.
Another is that the agency has administered massive coronavirus pandemic-related relief programs over the last several years — like the advanced Child Tax Credit.
And some forms are reviewed by IRS employees and treated as if submitted on paper even if they are e-filed.
This year will be one of the most challenging for the agency, with its record low staffing numbers. The IRS workforce is the same size it was in 1970, though the U.S. population has grown exponentially and tax laws have become increasingly complicated.
Lisa Greene-Lewis, a certified public accountant and a spokesperson at TurboTax, said that if people still intend to file a return by Tax Day, “I would gather all your documents in one place so you don’t leave anything out, like W-2s and 1099s.”
Important papers such as the “Letter 6419” that outlines the Child Tax Credit payments a taxpayer should have received this year and the “Letter 6475” for stimulus payments should also be on hand.
Greene-Lewis, who has been doing taxes for more than 20 years, said “you want to report the correct amount you received so you don’t have to have to make adjustments to your refund.”
Though the agency announced plans in March to hire at least 10,000 more workers to help process returns, administration officials say the IRS is in desperate need of more funding, as its budget has fallen over the last decade.
On a call with reporters, a senior Treasury official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the IRS backlog could be remedied with higher funding levels, as the IRS’ budget has decreased by more than 15% in real terms.
The IRS has put out some information and helpful links for last-minute filers — stressing that “taxpayers should be careful to file a complete and accurate tax return. If a return includes errors or is incomplete, it may require further review.
Keith Kahn, director/chair of the Delaware Society of CPAs, said he encourages everyone to file an electronic return.
When asked whether CPAs will accept clients on Tax Day, Kahn said it’s common for people to be turned away. But for those who can get an appointment, “make sure you have everything you could possibly provide to your CPA — there’s not a lot of time to hammer out strategy or to ask questions.”

Gulf Coast, Mississippi River cities eager for flood funding
April 18, 2022
By MICHAEL PHILLIS Associated Press
ST. LOUIS (AP) — When Hurricane Ida hit last summer, a storm surge overwhelmed a levee and gushed into Ted Falgout’s coastal Louisiana home, destroying his furniture and the beloved framed photos of his twin sons kissing him on their first day of school, then again when they graduated high school.
“That water was probably 60% mud,” said Falgout, who’s hoping relief is on the way for his community in Larose, about 30 miles southwest of New Orleans.
As climate change makes hurricanes stronger and wetter and increases storm surges, cities on the Louisiana coast and Mississippi River are hoping President Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure package will provide badly needed funding to fortify locks, levees and other flood protections. But community groups and advocates fear smaller cities will struggle to navigate the maze of government programs and miss out on the rare chance to protect against rising waters and heavy rains.
“I think the agencies are still figuring a lot of this out,” said Colin Wellenkamp, executive director of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative, which advocates for communities along the river.
While many swaths of the country are at risk for flooding, the Louisiana coast has long been especially vulnerable and the Upper Mississippi is part of a region where flood severity is increasing faster than in any other area of the country.
La Crosse, Wisconsin is among the cities trying to figure out how to benefit as infrastructure funds start rolling out.
The city’s levees were built after devastating flooding in 1965 and don’t meet federal standards that would help lower insurance rates and make it easier for residents to fix up their homes without having to spend more to protect against floods, said Brad Woznak of SEH, a flood planning consultant for the city.
Upgrading the levees would be so expensive it’s hard for the city to know how to get started, he said.
“But with this potential infrastructure bill funding, that’s what I keep telling them — don’t rule anything out yet,” Woznak said, noting that it could be a chance to pay for an initial evaluation for the project.
Some advocates want agencies to make it easier for communities to learn about funding opportunities and ensure that simple applications from small towns will be able to compete against more sophisticated proposals from richer cities. They also want more clarity into how the Biden administration considers factors like economic and environmental inequality in its funding decisions.
The Biden administration is asking states to make climate resilience a part of their long-term planning and encouraging projects that factor in flood risk. It tapped Mitch Landrieu, the former mayor of New Orleans, to help coordinate the law’s implementation and outreach to communities
“There needs to be a concerted effort by the administration and federal government to engage states and localities now,” said Forbes Tompkins, a flood policy expert at Pew Charitable Trusts.
The Environmental Protection Agency also said it will offer assistance to disadvantaged areas and states have money to help small communities access funding for drinking and wastewater projects. Rural communities are also getting special guidance on tapping into the money.
But further complicating the scramble for funding is debate about the best approaches for protecting against floods. In addition to protections like levees and floodgates, Congress directed the Army Corps to more seriously consider natural solutions like the restoration of wetlands.
Wetlands help absorb water before it can reach communities while restoring wildlife habitat, recharging groundwater and providing more green space, noted Olivia Dorothy of the conservation group American Rivers.
After flooding in 2019 breached a levee in northwest Missouri on the Missouri River, for example, the levee was moved back to create more than 1,000 acres of floodplain and added wetlands.
Dorothy said more natural protections are especially needed along the Mississippi.
In Louisiana, Larose is among the small communities that were lucky enough to benefit from early funding from the infrastructure law because of a long-running project in the broader area.
In January, the Army Corps allocated $379 million to continue work on a series of locks, levees and other structures that will help protect 150,000 residents in coastal Louisiana. Once completed, local officials said the Morganza-to-the-Gulf project will likely shield Falgout’s home from another storm like Ida.
For now, Falgout and his wife are living in their boathouse while their home is repaired. The property had escaped flooding in the past but Falgout said the shrinking Louisiana coast is making it more vulnerable.
“It would be a shame to walk away,” he said.
On Tax Day, an extension may be better than rushing a return
April 18, 2022
By FATIMA HUSSEIN Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Monday is Tax Day — the federal deadline for individual tax filing and payments — and the IRS expects to receive tens of millions of last-minute filings electronically and through paper forms.
As of April 8, the IRS had received more than 103 million returns for this tax season, and it had issued more than 63 million refunds worth more than $204 billion.
For comparison, last year more than 169 million people completed an income tax return by the end of the year. That probably leaves nearly 40% of this year’s taxpayers still unaccounted for, with many scrambling to submit their documents by Monday.
Nina Tross, executive director of the National Society of Tax Professionals, said that if people haven’t filed their taxes by now, “they’re better off filing an extension.”
But, she added, “People don’t realize that filing an extension has zero effect” as long as they have paid their income taxes by Tax Day.
“An extension is merely filing a return at a later date,” Tross said. “If you rush through a return to get it out the door, and you have to amend it later, you’re more likely to get a double look from the IRS.”
“You’re much better off extending than amending,” she said.
The IRS this year is facing its biggest backlog in history. At the end of the 2021 filing season, the agency had 35.3 million returns waiting for processing. One reason is that every paper document that goes into the IRS is processed by a human, according to the IRS.
Another is that the agency has administered massive coronavirus pandemic-related relief programs over the last several years — like the advanced Child Tax Credit.
And some forms are reviewed by IRS employees and treated as if submitted on paper even if they are e-filed.
This year will be one of the most challenging for the agency, with its record low staffing numbers. The IRS workforce is the same size it was in 1970, though the U.S. population has grown exponentially and tax laws have become increasingly complicated.
Lisa Greene-Lewis, a certified public accountant and a spokesperson at TurboTax, said that if people still intend to file a return by Tax Day, “I would gather all your documents in one place so you don’t leave anything out, like W-2s and 1099s.”
Important papers such as the “Letter 6419” that outlines the Child Tax Credit payments a taxpayer should have received this year and the “Letter 6475” for stimulus payments should also be on hand.
Greene-Lewis, who has been doing taxes for more than 20 years, said “you want to report the correct amount you received so you don’t have to have to make adjustments to your refund.”
Though the agency announced plans in March to hire at least 10,000 more workers to help process returns, administration officials say the IRS is in desperate need of more funding, as its budget has fallen over the last decade.
On a call with reporters, a senior Treasury official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the IRS backlog could be remedied with higher funding levels, as the IRS’ budget has decreased by more than 15% in real terms.
The IRS has put out some information and helpful links for last-minute filers — stressing that “taxpayers should be careful to file a complete and accurate tax return. If a return includes errors or is incomplete, it may require further review.
Keith Kahn, director/chair of the Delaware Society of CPAs, said he encourages everyone to file an electronic return.
When asked whether CPAs will accept clients on Tax Day, Kahn said it’s common for people to be turned away. But for those who can get an appointment, “make sure you have everything you could possibly provide to your CPA — there’s not a lot of time to hammer out strategy or to ask questions.”

Gulf Coast, Mississippi River cities eager for flood funding
April 18, 2022
By MICHAEL PHILLIS Associated Press
ST. LOUIS (AP) — When Hurricane Ida hit last summer, a storm surge overwhelmed a levee and gushed into Ted Falgout’s coastal Louisiana home, destroying his furniture and the beloved framed photos of his twin sons kissing him on their first day of school, then again when they graduated high school.
“That water was probably 60% mud,” said Falgout, who’s hoping relief is on the way for his community in Larose, about 30 miles southwest of New Orleans.
As climate change makes hurricanes stronger and wetter and increases storm surges, cities on the Louisiana coast and Mississippi River are hoping President Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure package will provide badly needed funding to fortify locks, levees and other flood protections. But community groups and advocates fear smaller cities will struggle to navigate the maze of government programs and miss out on the rare chance to protect against rising waters and heavy rains.
“I think the agencies are still figuring a lot of this out,” said Colin Wellenkamp, executive director of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative, which advocates for communities along the river.
While many swaths of the country are at risk for flooding, the Louisiana coast has long been especially vulnerable and the Upper Mississippi is part of a region where flood severity is increasing faster than in any other area of the country.
La Crosse, Wisconsin is among the cities trying to figure out how to benefit as infrastructure funds start rolling out.
The city’s levees were built after devastating flooding in 1965 and don’t meet federal standards that would help lower insurance rates and make it easier for residents to fix up their homes without having to spend more to protect against floods, said Brad Woznak of SEH, a flood planning consultant for the city.
Upgrading the levees would be so expensive it’s hard for the city to know how to get started, he said.
“But with this potential infrastructure bill funding, that’s what I keep telling them — don’t rule anything out yet,” Woznak said, noting that it could be a chance to pay for an initial evaluation for the project.
Some advocates want agencies to make it easier for communities to learn about funding opportunities and ensure that simple applications from small towns will be able to compete against more sophisticated proposals from richer cities. They also want more clarity into how the Biden administration considers factors like economic and environmental inequality in its funding decisions.
The Biden administration is asking states to make climate resilience a part of their long-term planning and encouraging projects that factor in flood risk. It tapped Mitch Landrieu, the former mayor of New Orleans, to help coordinate the law’s implementation and outreach to communities
“There needs to be a concerted effort by the administration and federal government to engage states and localities now,” said Forbes Tompkins, a flood policy expert at Pew Charitable Trusts.
The Environmental Protection Agency also said it will offer assistance to disadvantaged areas and states have money to help small communities access funding for drinking and wastewater projects. Rural communities are also getting special guidance on tapping into the money.
But further complicating the scramble for funding is debate about the best approaches for protecting against floods. In addition to protections like levees and floodgates, Congress directed the Army Corps to more seriously consider natural solutions like the restoration of wetlands.
Wetlands help absorb water before it can reach communities while restoring wildlife habitat, recharging groundwater and providing more green space, noted Olivia Dorothy of the conservation group American Rivers.
After flooding in 2019 breached a levee in northwest Missouri on the Missouri River, for example, the levee was moved back to create more than 1,000 acres of floodplain and added wetlands.
Dorothy said more natural protections are especially needed along the Mississippi.
In Louisiana, Larose is among the small communities that were lucky enough to benefit from early funding from the infrastructure law because of a long-running project in the broader area.
In January, the Army Corps allocated $379 million to continue work on a series of locks, levees and other structures that will help protect 150,000 residents in coastal Louisiana. Once completed, local officials said the Morganza-to-the-Gulf project will likely shield Falgout’s home from another storm like Ida.
For now, Falgout and his wife are living in their boathouse while their home is repaired. The property had escaped flooding in the past but Falgout said the shrinking Louisiana coast is making it more vulnerable.
“It would be a shame to walk away,” he said.


The Associated Press receives support from the Walton Family Foundation for coverage of water and environmental policy. The AP is solely responsible for all content. For all of AP’s environmental coverage, visit https://apnews.com/hub/environment

Ex-Michigan music professor gets prison on child sex charges
April 15, 2022
DETROIT (AP) — A former University of Michigan violin professor has been sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to transporting a girl across states lines for sex.
A federal judge who sentenced Stephen Shipps, 69, on Thursday also ordered the Ann Arbor man to pay $120,000 in restitution to his victim, federal prosecutors said. Shipps offered an apology and his lawyer had asked for no prison time.
Shipps pleaded guilty in November to one count of transporting a girl across state lines with the intent to engage in sexual conduct. The charges allege that he took the girl across state lines several times between February and July of 2002 with the intention of having sex with her.
The girl was born in 1985, according to court documents.
Shipps’ indictment in October 2020 and arrest in Ann Arbor came two years after the university placed the longtime professor on paid leave after former students accused him of sexual misconduct while he taught them in the 1970s and 1980s in Nebraska and North Carolina.
James C. Harris, III, acting special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Detroit, said he hopes Shipps’ sentence “sends a powerful message to others in positions of trust that if you prey on the vulnerable you will be held accountable for your actions.”
The University of Michigan has faced intense scrutiny over how it protects people on the campus from sexual misconduct. The school was rocked by allegations that began to publicly surface in 2020 from hundreds of men who said they were sexually assaulted by the late Robert Anderson, who was a campus doctor for nearly 40 years. He died in 2008. In January, the school announced a $490 million settlement with Anderson’s accusers.
Shipps taught at the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance from 1989 until his retirement in 2019. He also directed a preparatory program that offered musical instruction to children.
Shipps also served on the faculties of Indiana University, the North Carolina School of the Arts, the University of Nebraska–Omaha, and the Banff Centre in Canada, federal authorities said.


Florida police officer convicted in woman’s rough arrest
April 15, 2022
MIAMI (AP) — A jury took just over an hour to convict a Miami-Dade officer of felony battery and official misconduct in the rough arrest of a Black woman who had called police for help.
Alejandro Giraldo was suspended after cellphone video circulated on social media in March 2019 showing him tackling Dyma Loving, who had called police to report that a neighbor had pointed a shotgun at her. Police body cameras also recorded the encounter.
“Police officers can put their hands on people to effectuate a lawful arrest. If the arrest is unlawful, they have no more rights than the rest of us. And he sure as heck can’t tackle her to the ground,” said prosecutor Tim VanderGiesen.
Giraldo insisted he acted lawfully in subduing an unruly woman who was interfering with an investigation.
“What you see there isn’t a crime. What you see there is a police officer working the streets, dealing with a situation and maybe his bedside manner was off,” his attorney, Andre Rouviere, told jurors. “When he arrested Dyma Loving, it was after warning after warning that she was being disruptive.”
Giraldo, who is Hispanic, faces up to five years in prison at sentencing. The jury consisted of two Black women, one Hispanic woman and three Hispanic men.
The video sparked outrage in a county where at least nine police officers from four different police agencies are awaiting trial on allegations they battered suspects while on duty, the Miami Herald reported. Three other officers have been acquitted since 2019 in excessive force cases.
The conviction of North Miami police Officer Jonathon Aledda was overturned by an appeals court in February. He had fired fired his weapon at an autistic man holding a silver toy truck, and hit the man’s caregiver. Prosecutors declined to try the case again.
In Giraldo’s case, video showed him pushing Loving into a fence and then taking her to the ground, where she was handcuffed. Loving was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest without violence. Those charges were later dropped.
The arrest report inaccurately said that Loving was “causing a scene” and was being “uncooperative,” prosecutors said.
Giraldo’s defense attorney countered that it was Loving and another woman at the scene who were out of control.
“We thought that we had established that they couldn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt the charges, but I guess the jury saw it a different way, and we have to accept the jury’s verdict,” Rouviere said after Giraldo was convicted on Thursday.

Brooklyn subway attack suspect ordered held without bail
April 14, 2022
By TOM HAYS Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — The man charged with opening fire on subway riders on train in Brooklyn was ordered held without bail Thursday at his first court appearance, where prosecutors told a judge he terrified all of New York City.
Brought into a Brooklyn federal court without handcuffs, a subdued Frank James, 62, softly answered standard questions about whether he understood the charges and the purpose of the brief hearing. His lawyer later asked the public not to prejudge him.
James was arrested in Manhattan after calling a police tip line to say where he was Wednesday, a day after the nightmarish rush-hour attack left 10 people with gunshot wounds and countless others fearing for their safety on the nation’s busiest subway system.
Authorities say he unleashed smoke bombs and dozens of bullets, in a train full of morning commuters. He’s charged with a federal terrorism offense that applies to attacks on mass transit systems — authorities say there’s currently no evidence linking him to terror organizations and are still trying to derive a motive.
“The defendant terrifyingly opened fire on passengers on a crowded subway train, interrupting their morning commute in a way the city hasn’t seen in more than 20 years,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara K. Winik said. “The defendant’s attack was premeditated, was carefully planned and it caused terror among the victims and our entire city.”
The 10 gunshot victims, who range in age from 16 to 60, are all expected to survive.
Outside the courtroom, defense attorney Mia Eisner-Grynberg cautioned against “a rush to judgment.”
“Initial reports in a case like this are often inaccurate,” she said. She noted that James alerted police to his whereabouts, 30 hours into a manhunt that included cellphone alerts to the general public.
Once he knew he was wanted, “he called Crime Stoppers to help,” Eisner-Grynberg said.
She had agreed to his being held without bail, at least for now. His attorneys could seek bail later on.
At the request of James’ lawyers, Magistrate Roanne Mann said she would ask for James to get “psychiatric attention,” as well as magnesium tablets for leg cramps, at the federal lockup in Brooklyn where he’s being held.
Authorities say a trove of evidence connects James to the attack. His bank card, his cellphone and a key to a van he had rented were found at the shooting scene. Officers also found the handgun they said was used in the shooting; tracing records show James purchased the gun from a licensed gun dealer in Ohio in 2011.
In court papers, prosecutors called the shooting calculated, saying that James wore a hard hat and construction worker-style jacket as a disguise and then shed them after the gunfire to avoid recognition. Prosecutors suggested James had the means to carry out more more attacks, noting that he had ammunition and other gun-related items in a Philadelphia storage unit.
The New York City native had been living in Milwaukee and Philadelphia recently.
Investigators were examining many hours of videos that James posted on social media, as recently as Monday, in which he delivered profanity-laced diatribes about racism, society’s treatment of Black people, homelessness and violence. He also discussed his history of psychiatric treatment and complained about how New York’s mayor is dealing with homeless people on subways and with gun violence.
He also talked about shooting people, prosecutors noted in court papers.


Associated Press journalists Jim Mustian, Michael R. Sisak and Jennifer Peltz contributed.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk offers to buy Twitter for $43 billion
April 14, 2022
By MICHELLE CHAPMAN and MATT O’BRIEN AP Business Writers
In just ten days, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has gone from popular Twitter contributor to the company’s largest individual shareholder to a would-be owner of the social platform — a whirlwind of activity that could change the service dramatically given Musk’s self-identification as a free speech absolutist.
Twitter revealed in a securities filing Thursday that the sometimes whimsical billionaire has offered to buy the company outright for more than $43 billion, saying the social media platform “needs to be transformed as a private company” in order to build trust with its users.
“This is not a sort of way to make money,” Musk said during an onstage interview at the TED 2022 conference Thursday. “Having a public platform that is maximally trusted and broadly inclusive is extremely important to the future of civilization.”
Like other platforms, Twitter over the past several years has established restrictions on tweets that threaten violence, incite hatred, bully others and spread misinformation. Such rules played a key role in Twitter’s decision to ban former President Donald Trump following the 2021 Capitol insurrection of Jan. 6. Musk detailed some specific potential changes Thursday — like favoring temporary rather than permanent bans — but has mostly described his aim in broad and abstract terms.
While Twitter’s user base remains much smaller than those of rivals such as Facebook and TikTok, the service is popular with celebrities, world leaders, journalists and intellectuals. Musk himself has more than 81 million followers, rivaling pop stars such as Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga.
Twitter shares were changing hands at $44.82 in afternoon trading, down slightly more than 2% and well below Musk’s offer of $54.20 per share. That’s generally a sign that some investors doubt the deal will go through. The stock is still down from its 52-week high of about $73.
Musk called that price his best and final offer, although he provided no details on financing. The offer is non-binding and subject to financing and other conditions.
“I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy,” Musk said in the filing. “I now realize the company will neither thrive nor serve this societal imperative in its current form. Twitter needs to be transformed as a private company.”
Twitter said it will decide whether accepting the offer is in the best interests of shareholders.
Analyst Daniel Ives of Wedbush said in a client note that he believes “this soap opera will end with Musk owning Twitter after this aggressive hostile takeover of the company.” He thinks it would be hard for any other bidders or consortium to come forward and said Twitter’s board will likely be forced to accept Musk’s offer or start a process to sell the company.
Musk revealed in regulatory filings over recent weeks that he’d been buying shares in almost daily batches starting Jan. 31, ending up with a stake of about 9%. Only Vanguard Group’s suite of mutual funds and ETFs controls more Twitter shares. A lawsuit filed Tuesday in New York federal court alleged that Musk illegally delayed disclosing his stake in the social media company so he could buy more shares at lower prices.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission could punish Musk for hurting other investors by taking too long to disclose his buying up of Twitter shares, but it’s unlikely that it will do anything to stop a takeover, said Chester Spatt, a former SEC chief economist.
“This is going to play out reasonably quickly,” said Spatt, now a finance professor at Carnegie Mellon University. The SEC, he said, “weighs in after the fact for the most part.”
The billionaire has been a vocal critic of Twitter, mostly over his belief that it falls short on free speech principles. The social media platform has angered followers of Donald Trump and other far-right political figures who’ve had their accounts suspended for violating its content standards on violence, hate or harmful misinformation. Musk has described himself as a “free speech absolutist” but is also known for blocking other Twitter users who question or disagree with him.
After Musk announced his stake, Twitter quickly offered him a seat on its board on the condition that he not own more than 14.9% of the company’s outstanding stock, according to a filing. But the company said five days later that he’d declined. The decision coincided with a barrage of now-deleted and not-always-serious tweets from Musk proposing major changes to the company, such as dropping ads — its chief source of revenue — and transforming its San Francisco headquarters into a homeless shelter.
The turnabout led CEO Parag Agrawal to warn employees earlier this week that “there will be distractions ahead” and to “tune out the noise and stay focused on the work.”
Twitter hasn’t done as well as its social media rivals and lost money last year. The company reported a net loss of $221 million for 2021 largely tied to the settlement of a lawsuit by shareholders who said the company misled investors about how much its user base was growing and how much users interacted with its platform. Its co-founder Jack Dorsey resigned as CEO in late November and was replaced by Agrawal.
Musk’s more than 81 million Twitter followers make him one of the most popular figures on the platform, rivaling pop stars like Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga. But his prolific tweeting has sometimes gotten him into trouble with the SEC and others.
Musk and Tesla in 2018 agreed to pay $40 million in civil fines and for Musk to have his tweets approved by a corporate lawyer after he tweeted about having the money to take Tesla private at $420 per share. That didn’t happen, but the tweet caused Tesla’s stock price to jump. Musk’s latest trouble with the SEC could be his delay in notifying regulators of his growing stake in Twitter.
Both his 2018 comments about taking Tesla private at $420 per share and his latest bid to take Twitter private at $54.20 per share seemed to jokingly reference the number 420, a slang reference to marijuana.
“I guess he’s free to name whatever price he wants,” Spatt said. “One could argue he’s trying to poke a finger at the SEC. It’s hard to see what the commission could do about that. But I do think his violation of the 10-day disclosure requirement is a substantive thing.”

Tornadoes in Texas injure 23 people
April 13, 2022
SALADO, Texas (AP) — Nearly two dozen people were injured when tornadoes swept through central Texas as part of a storm system that was expected to spawn more twisters and damaging winds Wednesday.
The storms caused widespread damage Tuesday in Salado, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Austin. Bell County Judge David Blackburn said 23 people were injured, one of them critically. Twelve of the injured were taken to hospitals, Blackburn said.
“There’s not much left,” said Blackburn, the county’s top elected official. “Large trees are uprooted and overturned and stripped. Buildings really reduced to rubble. … Power lines, power poles, are scattered all over the place. It’s pretty devastating.”
Photos on social media showed grapefruit-size hail associated with that storm.
Tornadoes were also spotted Tuesday in Iowa, but there were no reports of serious injuries. In Lincoln, Nebraska, powerful wind gusts knocked down tree limbs and caused some roof damage. A possible tornado also caused damage in the small southern Minnesota town of Taopi near the state’s border with Iowa.
Mower County Sheriff Steve Sandvik said dispatchers began getting calls from residents trapped in their damaged homes not long after a tornado warning siren sounded at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday. There were no reports of serious injuries. Weather service crews were assessing damage in the area Wednesday.
More tornadoes were in the forecast Wednesday for parts of the mid-South and in the Mississippi River Valley, the Storm Prediction Center said.
Hurricane-force winds, intense tornadoes and large hail were possible in Arkansas, Illinois, Tennessee, Missouri, Kentucky, Mississippi, Indiana, Louisiana and Alabama, forecasters said. Little Rock, Arkansas, and Memphis, Tennessee, were among the cities that could see the worst weather Wednesday, the Storm Prediction Center said.
Elsewhere, the North Dakota Capitol, schools, government offices and interstates remained closed Wednesday as a blizzard continued to bear down on the state.
A blizzard warning issued by the National Weather Service remained in effect through Thursday for most of western and central North Dakota where up to 2 feet (60 centimeters) of snow was expected.

Anxieties resurface after NYC shooting
April 13, 2022
By BOBBY CAINA CALVAN Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — As the year began, New Yorkers shuddered at a subway crime straight out of urban nightmares — the death of a woman shoved onto the tracks by a disturbed stranger. The city’s new mayor vowed to “make sure New Yorkers feel safe in our subway system.”
But commuters Tuesday morning faced an attack that evoked many riders’ deepest fears. A rush-hour train car filled with smoke as it pulled into a Brooklyn station. Gunshots — at least 33 of them — rang out, wounding at least 10 people.
Frightened riders fled, and so did the gunman, who remained at large Wednesday.
Much is still unknown about the attack, including whether it was an act of terrorism. Authorities said they were searching for Frank R. James, 62, the suspect who they say rented a van linked to the shooting.
It was a searing reminder of the city’s unyielding battle with gun violence and the specter of terror-like attacks that hangs over New York City — and particularly the subway system that is its transportation backbone.
Police and security officials have made many attempts to harden the city against such attacks, putting officers on trains and platforms, installing cameras and even doing rare spot checks for weapons on passengers entering some stations.
Yet the sprawling system, with nearly 500 stations, largely remains like the city streets themselves: Too big to guard and too busy to completely secure.
Public officials say the subway system is crucial to the city’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, which saw many New Yorker avoiding mass transit during its peak. Typical daily subway ridership fell from 5.5 million riders to less than a tenth of that.
But as more people return to offices, ridership is increasing. On Monday, estimated ridership was 3.1 million, according to the MTA, which operates the system.
With the gunman still on the loose, commuters like Julia Brown had little choice but to keep riding the rails.
“It’s the only way to get home — other than the express bus and then another bus and then another bus,” Brown, who works in Manhattan, said just hours after the attack. “I lived through 9/11. I lived through the blackout. You just have to be as safe as you can, and just be mindful around your environment.”
Gov. Kathy Hochul posted a photo on social media showing her riding a train after the shooting, and Mayor Eric Adams pledged to increase patrols in subway stations.
“We know that this hurts the mindset of many New Yorkers who are afraid of what happened, but we’re a resilient city. We’ve been here before,” Adams told MSNBC on Wednesday.
Even before the attack, the mayor had vowed to increase subway patrols and launch sweeps of subway stations and trains to remove homeless people using them as shelters.
In a rambling video posted on YouTube, James replayed recent speeches by Adams and Hochul and mocked their efforts to address violence as weak and futile.
“Their plan is doomed for failure,” James said in the video.
In the 1980s, New York City’s subways were a symbol of urban disorder: graffiti-covered, crime-plagued and shunned by tourists.
Like the rest of the city, though, the subways have since cleaned up their act. Before COVID-19 hit, the main problem with the trains wasn’t crime but overcrowding and breakdowns related to aging infrastructure.
After the Sept. 11 terror attacks, New Yorkers learned to live with the worry that the subways or other parts of the city could be a terror target.
In 2017, an Islamic State group sympathizer detonated a pipe bomb strapped to his chest in a subway station near the Port Authority Bus Terminal, injuring several bystanders.
That same year, the city began expanding the use of vehicle-blocking sidewalk barriers after two attacks. In one, a man who prosecutors said was also supportive of IS drove a rented truck down a bicycle path along the Hudson River, killing eight people and maiming others. In another, a psychologically disturbed man drove a car at high speed into pedestrians in Times Square, killing one and injuring at least 20.
In 2016, a man who prosecutors said sympathized with Osama bin Laden set off homemade bombs in Manhattan and New Jersey, injuring some bystanders, before being captured in a shootout with police. And in 2010, a man tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square, only to have it fizzle.
Christopher Herrmann, a former city police officer who is now a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said episodes like Tuesday’s are bound to provoke a new round of anxiety, especially among subway riders.
“With 9/11, you have a specific target: the World Trade Center,” Herrmann said. “A lot of people can wrap their heads around that.”
But the seeming randomness of Tuesday’s attack “really invokes a lot of fear and worry,” he said, “because most people don’t consider themselves a target.”
Some subway riders expressed concern while others shrugged it off as an everyday risk.
Alexi Vizhnay considered boarding a ferry across the East River after work Tuesday but decided to take his chances on the subway. It was simply the most efficient way to get home to Queens.
“There’s a lot of things that happen out of your control,” he said. “As tragic as it is, all I can do is remind myself to be vigilant and be cautious.”
By Wednesday morning, the station where the shot-up train pulled into had reopened and commuters were once again on their way.
“You have to be more vigilant of your surroundings. But scared? No,” said Ana Marrero, who has taken the subway to work for 30 years. “You think of the tragedy and the people that were hurt, but you have no other choice and do what you have to do.”


Associated Press journalists Jennifer Peltz, Jim Mustian, Michael R. Sisak, Seth Wenig and Joseph B. Frederick contributed to this report.


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