(AP) – Increasingly it feels like America is at war with itself.
In New Orleans, just days into the new year, a 14-year-old girl was shot to death, along with her father and uncle. A few days after, in a Virginia classroom, a 6-year-old boy pulled out a gun and shot his first-grade teacher.That news was eclipsed by a mass shooting at a California dance studio last weekend that left 11 people dead. A day later and a few hundred miles away, a farmworker opened fire in a beachside town, killing seven coworkers. Three more were killed and four wounded in a shooting at a short-term rental home in an an upscale Los Angeles neighborhood early Saturday.
Just keeping track of all the shootings has become overwhelming, with the locations, circumstances and the names of the victims running together into a seemingly endless trail of bloodshed and grief.
And many Americans are deeply pessimistic that anything will soon change.When President Joe Biden signed a bill last year to fight gun violence – the first such measure to pass Congress in a generation – a substantial majority supported it. But 78% said they believed it would do little or nothing at all, a survey by the Pew Research Center found.
The sheer number of killings and the glacial pace of the political response “breeds a sense of powerlessness and despair,” said Pedro Noguera, the dean of the school of education at the University of Southern California and a sociologist who has studied gun violence for more than two decades.
Report: drones attack convoy in east Syria coming from Iraq
BEIRUT (AP) – Drones attacked a convoy of trucks in eastern Syria Sunday night shortly after it crossed into the country from Iraq, Syrian opposition activists and a pro-government radio station said.There was no immediate word on casualties.
The strike comes amid heightening tension between Iran and its rivals in the region.
It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack on the convoy in the Syrian border region of Boukamal, which is a stronghold of Iran-backed militias.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, said the drones appear to have been from the U.S.-led coalition, adding that they targeted six refrigerated trucks.The group said there were casualties and ambulances rushed to the area.
Another activist said the strike hit a convoy of trucks of Iran-backed militiamen. Omar Abu Layla, a Europe-based activist from Deir el-Zour who runs a group that monitors developments, tweeted that there was no immediate word on casualties.
Erdogan might approve Finland’s NATO bid, ‘shock’ Sweden
ISTANBUL (AP) – Turkey’s president has suggested his country might approve Finland’s application for NATO membership before taking any action on Sweden’s, while the Turkish government issued a travel warning for European countries due to anti-Turkish demonstrations and what it described as Islamophobia.
The travel warning published late Saturday followed demonstrations last weekend outside the Turkish Embassy in Sweden, where an anti-Islam activist burned the Quran and pro-Kurdish groups protested against Turkey.The events stiffened Turkey’s refusal so far to ratify Sweden’s NATO bid.
Sweden and Finland applied jointly to become members of the military alliance, dropping their longstanding military nonalignment following Russia´s war on Ukraine.In a prerecorded video of an event released Sunday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan indicated that Turkey might sign off on only Finland.
“If needed, we could give a different message about Finland. Sweden will be shocked when we give the different message about Finland.” Erdogan said to a group of young people in Bilecik province.
Turkey has accused the government in Stockholm of being too lenient toward groups it deems as terror organizations or existential threats, including Kurdish groups.NATO requires unanimous approval of its existing members to add new ones, but Erdogan’s government has said it would only agree to admit Sweden if the country met its conditions.
Concerns over prayer breakfast lead Congress to take it over
WASHINGTON (AP) – The National Prayer Breakfast, one of the most visible and long-standing events that brings religion and politics together in Washington, is splitting from the private religious group that had overseen it for decades, due to concerns the gathering had become too divisive.
The organizer and host for this year’s breakfast, scheduled for Thursday, will be the National Prayer Breakfast Foundation, headed by former Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark.
Sen. Chris Coons, a regular participant and chairman of the Senate ethics committee, said the move was prompted in part by concerns in recent years that members of Congress did not know important details about the larger multiday gathering.
Coons, D-Del., said that in the past, he and Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, the committee’s vice chairman, had questions about who was invited and how money was being raised.
The annual event “went on several days, had thousands of people attending, and a very large and somewhat complex organization,” Coons said in an interview.”Some questions had been raised about our ability as members of Congress to say that we knew exactly how it was being organized, who was being invited, how it was being funded. Many of us who´d been in leadership roles really couldn´t answer those questions.”
Hurts, Eagles soar into Super Bowl, rout 49ers for NFC title
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Jalen Hurts can conduct a singalong about as well as he can orchestrate the kind of punishing scoring drives that sent the Eagles into the Super Bowl.
At the end of one more triumph, Hurts stood on the stage on the field – as his Eagles teammates passed around the NFC championship trophy – and clutched a microphone in front of what was suddenly Philadelphia’s largest karaoke joint.His rendition of the team fight song was a tad off-key.
Hurts may not sing as well as he can score, but it was another memorable moment in a season full of them. And the Eagles don’t believe they’re done yet.
“We´ve got new moments,” Hurts said.”New moments and new times.”
Hurts had one of Philadelphia’s four rushing touchdowns and the Eagles soared into the Super Bowl, forcing both of San Francisco’s quarterbacks out of the game with injuries and beating the wounded 49ers 31-7 in the NFC championship game on Sunday.
Friends mourn volunteer killed helping civilians in Ukraine
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) – Friends and volunteers gathered Sunday at Kyiv’s St Sophia´s Cathedral to say goodbye to Andrew Bagshaw, a New Zealand scientist who was killed in Ukraine with another volunteer while they were trying to evacuate people from a front-line town.
Bagshaw, 48, a dual New Zealand-British citizen, and British volunteer Christopher Parry, 28, went missing this month while heading to the town of Soledar, in the eastern Donetsk region, where heavy fighting was taking place.
Volunteers spoke of their memories of Bagshaw and read tributes from his family.
Nikolletta Stoyanova, a friend in Ukraine, shared memories of his bravery.
“Even if no one wanted to go to Soledar, they can do that. Because if he understood that someone needs help, they need to do this help for these people,” Stoyanova said, speaking in English.
Trustees picked by DeSantis may change progressive college
SARASOTA, Fla.(AP) – “Your education. Your way. Be original. Be you.”
That’s how New College of Florida describes its approach to higher education in an admission brochure. The state school of fewer than 1,000 students nestled along Sarasota Bay has long been known for its progressive thought and creative course offerings that don’t use traditional grades.
The school, founded in 1960, is also a haven for marginalized students, especially from the LGBTQ community, said second-year student Sam Sharf in a recent interview on campus.
“There’s a lot of students out there that are not allowed to be themselves in their hometowns,” said Sharf, who is a transgender woman. “When they get to come here, they get to thrive because they really get to be themselves.”
To Sharf and others, New College’s reputation as a haven for originality and individualized coursework is now threatened.Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ recently appointed six new trustees who intend to turn the school into a classical liberal arts school modeled after conservative favorite Hillsdale College in Michigan.
Elon Musk’s mysterious ways on display in Tesla tweet trial
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Elon Musk´s enigmatic personality and unconventional tactics are emerging as key exhibits in a trial revolving around one of his most polarizing pursuits – tweeting.
The trial, centered on a pair of tweets announcing Musk had obtained the money to take Tesla private in 2018, reeled the 51-year-old billionaire into a federal courtroom in San Francisco for three days of testimony that opened a peephole into his often inscrutable mind.
Musk, who now owns the Twitter service that he deploys as his megaphone, was often a study in contrasts during his roughly eight hours on the stand.The CEO of the electric carmaker is facing a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of Tesla shareholders after Musk tweeted about a company buyout that didn´t happen.
Through both his testimony and the evidence submitted around it, Musk came across as impetuous, steam iade etme brash, combative and contemptuous of anyone who questioned his motives as a game-changing entrepreneur who has inspired comparisons to Apple’s late co-founder, Steve Jobs.
At other times, Musk sounded like the savvy visionary that his supporters hail him to be – an intrepid rebel who by his own estimates has raised more than $100 billion from investors.They have been richly rewarded from his leadership of pioneering companies that include PayPal in digital payments, Tesla in electric vehicles and SpaceX in rocket ships.
Tunisian voters shun elections seen as test for democracy
TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) – Voters in Tunisia massively shunned parliamentary elections seen as an important test for their president and their country’s troubled democracy, according to preliminary turnout figures Sunday.Independent observers reported scattered violations.
Turnout was just 11.3% of Tunisia’s 8 million voters, according to preliminary estimates from the national electoral commission. That is about the same level of participation as in the first round of voting last month.
Many disaffected Tunisians stayed away, and the influential Islamist party Ennahdha and other opposition movements boycotted.
The runoff elections were being watched around the Arab world.They’re seen as a conclusive step in President Kais Saied´s push to consolidate power, tame Islamist rivals and win back lenders and investors needed to save the teetering economy.
But the low turnout casts doubt on the future parliament’s legitimacy and could complicate Saied’s plans.Election officials are expected to announce the official preliminary results Wednesday.
Protesters: ‘Cop City’ activist’s killing doesn’t make sense
ATLANTA (AP) – Tortuguita´s cautious voice rang out from a platform amid the tall pines the first time Vienna met them: “Who goes there?” she remembers them calling.
The tree-dweller, who chose the moniker Tortuguita – Spanish for “Little Turtle” – over their given name, was perched above the forest floor in the woods just outside Atlanta last summer.
Vienna quickly identified herself, and Tortuguita´s watchfulness melted into the bubbly, curious, funny persona so many in the forest knew.They welcomed the newcomer and helped her settle in alongside the other self-proclaimed “forest defenders” on an 85-acre (34-hectare) site officials plan to develop into a huge police and firefighter training center. Protesters derisively call it “Cop City.”
“It was a magical experience for me, being able to live out our ideals,” Vienna told The Associated Press, recalling how the protesters shared clothing, food and money, all while engaging in community activism.She and Tortuguita quickly fell in love during those warm, late summer days.
That was before. Before a Jan. 18 police operation that ended in gunfire, leaving 26-year-old Tortuguita dead and a state trooper hospitalized, shot in the abdomen. Officials have said officers fired in self-defense after Tortuguita, whose given name was Manuel Esteban Paez Terán, shot the trooper.Activists argue it was state-sanctioned murder.