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Associated Press World View-Feb. 10, 2021

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Feb 10, 2021

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  • Impeachment trial to proceed after emotional first day; Trump fumes.

  • US vaccine drive complicated by first, second dose juggling act.

  • Israel’s ultra-Orthodox reject sharp criticism, defy virus safety rules.

  • Safety officials: Kobe Bryant crash pilot got disoriented flying in clouds.



The Rundown

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Impeachment trial gets go-ahead after emotional, graphic first day; Senators to hear opening arguments as Trump fumes 

Confronting a painful and bloody moment or period in a nation’s history can take years, decades, even centuries, if it transpires at all. And even then, there will be those who fight against addressing and extricating the thorn in the country’s shared past.

It’s rare, almost inconceivable, such a reckoning in a hallowed democratic setting would take place just one month after it occurred.

But that’s what is happening as U.S. House prosecutors wrenched senators and the country back to the deadly attack on Congress on Jan. 6.

They opened Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment trial with graphic video of the insurrection and Trump’s own calls for a rally crowd to march to the iconic building and “fight like hell” against his reelection defeat to Joe Biden.

Trump is charged with inciting the violent mob attack.

“That’s a high crime and misdemeanor,” Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin declared in opening remarks. “If that’s not an impeachable offense, then there’s no such thing.”

Democratic prosecutors argue Trump committed a “grievous constitutional crime,” but his defense team insists his fiery words at the rally were just figures of speech — and thus protected by the Constitution’s First Amendment.

The opening arguments are set to begin today.  House Democrats prosecuting the case and Trump’s attorneys will lay out their opposing arguments before the senators, who are serving as jurors. Lisa Mascaro, Eric Tucker, Mary Clare Jalonick and Jill Colvin report.

The defense lost a vote seeking to halt the trial on constitutional grounds, 56-44

Trump fumed over his lawyers’ widely-panned, meandering performance as a disaster, and his allies are openly questioning the defense strategy, Jonathan Lemire and Jill Colvin report.

Trial Highlights: History lessons, Trump tweets and more from Brian Slodysko on the opening day.

VIDEO: Trump’s historic second impeachment trial opens.

VIDEO: Republicans criticize Trump lawyers’ performance. 

What to Watch Today: Democrats to argue Trump is solely responsible for inciting the mob.

AP FACT CHECK: Trump’s lawyers and the Constitution: The question of impeaching a former president has not been settled, but the AP’s Hope Yen and Calvin Woodward find that the weight of legal views contradicts the Trump team’s assertions.

Rep. Raskin: Congressman Raskin evoked tragedy in his own life as he argued for Trump’s conviction during the trial. Raskin described how, because of the funeral of his son who took his own life in December, his adult daughter was with him at the Capitol when the mob overran the building. The Maryland Democrat wiped away tears as he recalled his daughter believing that she would be killed and how she said afterward that she didn’t want to come back to the Capitol again, Will Weissert reports.

VIDEO: Raskin recounts Capitol riot after son’s death.

Media Decisions: The opening of the trial featured some explicit language not normally seen on daytime television or broadcast TV at all. But ABC, CBS, NBC and the cable news networks all aired unedited the 13-minute film prepared by House impeachment managers that showed disturbing details of the attack on the Capitol.The language included obscene chants by demonstrators surging toward the Capitol, David Bauder reports.

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US vaccine drive complicated by first, second dose juggling act; Stimulus plan: Democrats attempt to push through school funding, wage increase

The U.S. has entered a precarious phase of the COVID-19 vaccination effort as providers try to ramp up the number of people getting first shots while also ensuring a growing number of others get the required second doses.

The shift is happening just when millions more Americans are becoming eligible to receive vaccines, Candice Choi and Marion Renault report.

The need to give each person two doses a few weeks apart vastly complicates the country’s biggest-ever vaccination campaign. And persistent uncertainty about future vaccine supplies fuels worries that some people will not be able to get their second shots in time.

Some providers have curbed or canceled appointments for first doses to ensure there are enough second doses.

U.S. Relief Bill: House Democrats muscled past Republicans on major portions of President Biden’s pandemic plan, including a proposed $130 billion in school relief and a gradual increase of the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. It’s part of a $1.9 trillion relief package of Biden’s plan reopening plan. Democrats say schools won’t be able to reopen safely until they get funding to repair ventilation systems, buy protective equipment and take other steps recommended by health officials. Republicans oppose the legislation. Colin Binkley reports.


Small Business Struggles-New Orleans: The pandemic is tamping down the joy — and revenue — associated with Carnival season in New Orleans. Parades that normally draw thousands in the weeks before Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, which falls on Feb. 16 this year, have been canceled. Bars and restaurants that usually overflow with customers are closed or operating at limited capacity. Live music is all but dead. Many small business owners have weathered a lot already. Even as vaccinations ramp up, they’re preparing for a long wait before business gets back to normal, Rebecca Santana reports.


The Garden in Winter: Deep into this pandemic winter, it’s worth noting everything that a garden offers — indoors, outdoors and even in people’s own minds. It can be hard to remember what a refuge gardens were for many people last spring and summer. Seed companies sold out and household vegetable plots sprang up all over in the U.S. But even in winter the garden can provide comfort and perspective, assuring that spring is coming. Already, seed companies are selling out again. And along with spring, the arrival of vaccines might just signal a turn in the season, Julia Rubin reports.

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Israel’s ultra-Orthodox believers defy virus safety rules, reject sharp criticism; South Africa scraps AstraZeneca vaccine, will give J&J jabs; World’s second-oldest person survives COVID-19 at age 116

Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community has come under heavy criticism for holding large funerals and weddings in clear and dangerous violations of coronavirus restrictions.

The gatherings have brought clashes with police and unprecedented public anger toward the religious community. But many of its members believe Israeli society fails to understand their way of life and has turned the community into a scapegoat, reports Ilan Ben Zion from Jerusalem.

The ultra-Orthodox community makes up 12% of Israel’s 9.3 million people but accounts for an estimated third of the country’s virus cases.

Preserving the ultra-Orthodox way of life is the community’s ultimate aim. And if that means infections spread and put others at risk, it’s a price that some members are willing to pay.

South Africa Vaccines: The country will begin administering the unapproved Johnson & Johnson vaccine to its front-line health care workers next week. It will also study them to see what protection the J&J shot provides from COVID-19, particularly against the variant dominant in the country. Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said South Africa has scrapped its plans to use the AstraZeneca vaccine because it “does not prevent mild to moderate disease” of the variant dominant in the nation. Mkhize said the J&J vaccine, which is still being tested internationally, is safe. Andrew Meldrum reports from Johannesburg.

WHO in Wuhan: A team of international and Chinese scientists looking for the origins of the virus have said it most likely first appeared in humans after jumping from an animal. The team dismissed as unlikely a theory that the virus leaked from a Chinese lab. The mission leader of the closely watched visit by the World Health Organization to Wuhan said the probe did not dramatically change the current understanding of the early days of the pandemic,  But it did offer more details. The pandemic has now killed more than 2.3 million people worldwide. Emily Wang Fujiyama reports from Wuhan.

France Island Inequality: It’s the poorest corner of the European Union and was the last to receive any coronavirus vaccines. Welcome to the French Indian Ocean territory of Mayotte, where virus cases are spiking to their highest levels since the pandemic began, and demand for ICU beds is more than triple the supply. The French army is sending in relief, but the temporary aid will only go so far in a region where masks are a luxury and where nearly a third of the population has no running water. Local authorities say their difficulties in fighting the virus reflect long-standing inequalities between the French mainland and its far-flung former colonies, Sony Chamsidine and Angela Charlton  report.

France Oldest Survivor: A 116-year-old French nun who is believed to be the world’s second-oldest person has survived COVID-19. Sister André tested positive for the coronavirus in mid-January in France’s southern city of Toulon. But just three weeks later, she has recovered and is healthy enough to look forward to her 117th birthday on Thursday. She said, “I didn’t even realize I had it.” Once doctors declared the nun no longer infected, she was allowed to attend Mass. The Gerontology Research Group lists her as the second-oldest known living person in the world.

Japan Quarantine: What’s it like traveling to Japan, six months ahead of the Olympics? Almost impossible, unless you’re Japanese or have resident status. A state of emergency for a large part of the country means even those allowed to enter have to take multiple coronavirus tests and stay quarantined. So, what could the entry process be like for the thousands of Olympic athletes scheduled to arrive for the July Games? Plans now call for the athletes to be tested 72 hours before they leave home, again when they arrive and frequently inside the athletes’ village “bubble.” There are other restrictions too, but the biggest caveat is that the plans can change quickly. Mayuko Ono reports from Tokyo.


PHOTOS: Raucous dragon dance ban in Manila’s Chinatown saddens residents. 

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Kobe Bryant Crash

The pilot of the helicopter that crashed last year in South California, killing Kobe Bryant and seven other passengers, made a key error by flying through thick clouds that ended up disorienting him, U.S. safety officials said during a hearing aimed at pinpointing probable causes of the crash.

Pilot Ara Zobayan violated federal standards that required him to be able to see where he was going before the helicopter crashed during a roughly 40-minute flight, according to members of the National Transportation Safety Board, Stefanie Dazio, Brian Melley and David Koenig report.

Zobayan was among the nine people killed, including Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.

The pilot went against his training by becoming spatially disoriented in thick clouds, a condition that can happen to pilots in low visibility, when they cannot tell up from down or discern which way an aircraft is banking, board members said.

The NTSB said  Zobayan was under self-induced pressure to deliver the star, his daughter and six others to a girls basketball game. 

The others killed in the crash were Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife, Keri, and their daughter Alyssa; Christina Mauser, who helped Bryant coach his daughter’s basketball team; and Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton. Alyssa and Payton were Gianna’s teammates.

The crash has generated lawsuits and countersuits.

On the day that a massive memorial service was held at the Staples Center, where Bryant played most of his career for the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers, Vanessa Bryant sued Zobayan and the companies that owned and operated the helicopter for alleged negligence and the wrongful deaths of her husband and daughter. Families of other victims sued the helicopter companies but not the pilot.

VIDEO: US safety panel says pilot error likely in Bryant crash.

TIMELINE of chopper crash that killed Bryant, 8 others in California on Jan. 26, 2020.

Other Top Stories

Larger numbers of immigrant families have been crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in the first weeks of the Biden administration. Warning signs are emerging of the border crises that marked Donald Trump’s term: Hundreds of newly released immigrants are getting dropped off with nonprofit groups and there are growing accounts of prolonged detention in short-term facilities. Measures to control the virus have sharply cut space in holding facilities that got overwhelmed during a surge of arrivals in 2018 and 2019. To deal with the new influx, the Border Patrol reopened a large tent facility in South Texas to house migrant families and children. Meanwhile, long-term facilities for kids who cross alone are 80% full.

Crowds demonstrating against the military takeover in Myanmar have again defied a ban on protests even after security forces ratcheted up the use of force against them and raided the headquarters of the political party of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Fresh protests were reported in Yangon and Mandalay, the country’s two biggest cities, as well as the capital Naypyitaw and elsewhere. The protesters are demanding that power be restored to Suu Kyi. They’re also seeking freedom for her and other governing party members since the military detained them after blocking the new session of Parliament on Feb. 1. The growing rallies and the junta’s latest raid suggest there is little room for reconciliation.

A hacker’s botched attempt to poison the water of a small Florida city is raising alarms about just how vulnerable such systems may be to attacks by more sophisticated intruders. Treatment plants are typically cash-strapped and lack the cybersecurity depth of the power grid and nuclear plants. Suspicious incidents are usually chalked up to mechanical or procedural errors. But experts say they occur more often than the public is told and many go unreported to protect reputations, customer trust — and revenues. Officials say the Florida town of Oldsmar was only briefly in jeopardy last week, with safety features likely to have triggered alarms had the hack gone undetected.

The offspring of hippos illegally imported to Colombia by drug kingpin Pablo Escobar in the 1980s are flourishing in the lush area and experts are warning about the dangers of the growing numbers. One group of scientists is now urging that some of the animals be killed. They say the hippos pose a major threat to the area’s biodiversity and could lead to deadly encounters with humans. The scientists concluded that Colombia’s current sterilization program is not enough to control hippo numbers. The population has increased in the last eight years from 35 to somewhere between 65 and 80. The scientists’ forecast published last month says there could be roughly 1,500 by 2035 if some aren’t killed.

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