'We have to be heard': Texas women travel to seek abortions
SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — The 33-year-old Texas woman drove alone four hours through the night to get to the Louisiana abortion clinic for a consultation. She initially planned to sleep in her car, but an advocacy group helped arrange a hotel room.
Single and with three children ranging from 5 to 13, she worried that adding a baby now would take time, food, money and space away from her three children. She doesn't have a job, and without help from groups offering a safe abortion, she said, she probably would have sought another way to end her pregnancy.
“If you can’t get rid of the baby, what’s the next thing you’re going to do? You’re going to try to get rid of it yourself. So I’m thinking: ‘What could I do? What are some home remedies that I could do to get rid of this baby, to have a miscarriage, to abort it?’ And it shouldn’t be like that. I shouldn’t have to do that. I shouldn’t have to think like that, feel like that, none of that.
“We have to be heard. This has got to change. It’s not right.”
She was one of more than a dozen women who arrived Saturday at the Hope Medical Group for Women, a single-story brick building with covered windows just south of downtown Shreveport. Some came alone. Others were accompanied by a friend or a partner. Some brought their children because they were unable to get child care.
Assailant with bow and arrows kills 5 people in Norway
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A man armed with a bow fired arrows at shoppers in a small Norwegian town Wednesday, killing five people before he was arrested, authorities said.
The police chief in the community of Kongsberg, near the capital of Oslo, said there was “a confrontation” between officers and the assailant, but he did not elaborate. Two other people were wounded and hospitalized in intensive care, including an officer who was off duty and inside the shop where the attack took place, police said.
“The man who carried out the act has been arrested by the police, and there is no active search for more people. Based on the information we have, there is one person behind this,” Police Chief Oeyving Aas said.
Acting Prime Minister Erna Solberg described the attack as “gruesome” and said it was too early to speculate on a motive. The prime minister-designate, Jonas Gahr Stoere, who is expected to take office Thursday, called the assault “a cruel and brutal act” in comments to Norwegian news agency NTB.
Police were alerted to the attack around 6:15 p.m. and arrested the suspect about 30 minutes later. The community of some 26,000 inhabitants is about 66 kilometers (41 miles) southwest of Oslo.
More questions for J&J vaccine boosters ahead of FDA review
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration is wrestling with whether and when to offer another dose of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, while a new study out Wednesday raises the prospect that using a different brand as the booster might work better.
In an online review posted Wednesday, FDA scientists didn't reach a firm conclusion about whether there's enough evidence for J&J boosters, citing shortcomings with the company's data and little information on protection against the extra-contagious delta variant of the coronavirus.
The review comes ahead of meetings Thursday and Friday when an FDA advisory panel will recommend whether to back booster doses of both the J&J and Moderna vaccines. That's one step in the government's vaccine review process: Next week, the FDA will make a final decision on authorizing those boosters and then the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will debate who actually should get them.
Adding to the complexity is whether it's OK to use a booster that's a different brand than someone's initial shots. Preliminary results of a U.S. government study suggest that mixing and matching boosters will work at least as well — and maybe far better for J&J recipients. Those people had a stronger immune response if they got either a Moderna or Pfizer shot as their booster than if they received another dose of the J&J vaccine, according to results posted online Wednesday. Mix-and-match is also up for discussion by the FDA panel this week.
Health authorities say all the vaccines used in the U.S. continue to provide strong protection against severe disease or death from COVID-19. But amid signs that protection against milder infections may be waning, the government already has cleared booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine for certain people starting at six months after their last shot.
Lawyer who aided Trump subpoenaed by Jan. 6 committee
WASHINGTON (AP) — The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol has issued a subpoena to a former Justice Department lawyer who positioned himself as an ally of Donald Trump and aided the Republican president's efforts to challenge the results of the 2020 election.
The subpoena to Jeffrey Clark, revealed Wednesday, came amid signs of a rapidly escalating congressional inquiry. At least three of the people who were involved in organizing and running the rally that preceded the violent riot are handing over documents in response to subpoenas from the committee.
The demands for documents and testimony from Clark reflect the committee's efforts to probe not only the deadly insurrection but also the tumult that roiled the Justice Department in the weeks leading up to it as Trump and his allies leaned on government lawyers to advance his baseless claims that the election results were fraudulent. Trump loyalists who wrongly believed the election had been stolen stormed the Capitol in an effort to disrupt the congressional certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s victory.
Clark, an assistant attorney general in the Trump administration, has emerged as a pivotal character in that saga. A Senate committee report issued last week shows how he championed Trump's efforts to undo the election results and clashed as a result with Justice Department superiors who resisted the pressure, culminating in a dramatic White House meeting at which Trump ruminated about elevating Clark to attorney general.
“The Select Committee’s investigation has revealed credible evidence that you attempted to involve the Department of Justice in efforts to interrupt the peaceful transfer of power,” the chairman of the committee, Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, wrote in a letter to Clark announcing the subpoena.
COVID-19 hospital visitor rules: Families want more access
MIAMI (AP) — Banned from the Florida hospital room where her mother lay dying of COVID-19, Jayden Arbelaez pitched an idea to construction employees working nearby.
“Is there any way that I could get there?” Arbelaez asked them, pointing to a small third-story window of the hospital in Jacksonville.
The workers gave the 17-year-old a yellow vest, boots, a helmet and a ladder to climb onto a section of roof so she could look through the window and see her mother, Michelle Arbelaez, alive one last time.
A year and a half into a pandemic that has killed 700,000 people in the U.S., hospitals in at least a half-dozen states have loosened restrictions governing visits to COVID patients. Others, however, are standing firm, backed by studies and industry groups that indicate such policies have been crucial to keeping hospital-acquired infections low.
Some families of COVID-19 patients — and doctors — are asking hospitals to rethink that strategy, arguing that it denies people the right to be with loved ones at a crucial time.
Facebook expands harassment policy to protect public figures
Facebook will expand its policies on harassment to remove more harmful content, the company said Wednesday in its latest change following congressional testimony from a whistleblower who faulted the social media giant for not doing enough to stop harmful content.
Under the new, more detailed harassment policy, Facebook will bar content that degrades or sexualizes public figures, including celebrities, elected officials and others in the public eye. Existing policies already prohibit similar content about private individuals.
Another change will add more protections from harassment to government dissidents, journalists and human rights activists around the world. In many nations, social media harassment has been used in efforts to silence journalists and activists.
Lastly, the company based in Menlo Park, California, announced it will ban all coordinated harassment, in which a group of individuals work together to bully another user. That change will apply to all users.
“We do not allow bullying and harassment on our platform, but when it does happen, we act,” Antigone Davis, Facebook’s head of global safety, wrote in a blog post.
Chicago police union head urges cops to defy vaccine mandate
CHICAGO (AP) — The head of the Chicago police officers union has called on its members to defy the city's requirement to report their COVID-19 vaccination status by Friday or be placed on unpaid leave.
In the video posted online Tuesday and first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara vowed to take Mayor Lori Lightfoot's administration to court if it tries to enforce the mandate, which requires city workers to report their vaccine status by the end of the work week. After Friday, unvaccinated workers who won't submit to semiweekly coronavirus testing will be placed on unpaid leave.
Catanzara suggested that if the city does enforce its requirement and many union members refuse to comply with it, “It's safe to say that the city of Chicago will have a police force at 50% or less for this weekend coming up."
In the video, Catanzara instructs officers to file for exemptions to receiving the vaccine but to not enter that information into the city's vaccine portal.
He said that although he has made clear his vaccine status, "I do not believe the city has the authority to mandate that to anybody, let alone that information about your medical history.”
Neo-fascists exploit 'no-vax' rage, posing dilemma for Italy
ROME (AP) — An extreme-right party's violent exploitation of anger over Italy's coronavirus restrictions is forcing authorities to wrestle with the country's fascist legacy and fueling fears there could be a replay of last week's mobs trying to force their way to Parliament.
Starting Friday, anyone entering workplaces in Italy must have received at least one vaccine dose, or recovered from COVID-19 recently or tested negative within two days, using the country's Green Pass to prove their status. Italians already use the pass to enter restaurants, theaters, gyms and other indoor entertainment, or to take long-distance buses, trains or domestic flights.
But 10,000 opponents of that government decree turned out in Rome's vast Piazza del Popolo last Saturday in a protest that degenerated into alarming violence.
It's the mixing and overlap of the extreme right and those against Italy's vaccine mandates that are causing worries, even though those opposed to vaccines are still a distinct minority in a country where 80% of people 12 and older are fully vaccinated.
Incited by the political extreme right at the rally, thousands marched through the Italian capital on Saturday and hundreds rampaged their way through the headquarters of the left-leaning CGIL labor union. Police foiled their repeated attempts to reach the offices of Italy's premier and the seat of Parliament.
Winter heating bills set to jump as inflation hits home
NEW YORK (AP) — Get ready to pay sharply higher bills for heating this winter, along with seemingly everything else.
With prices surging worldwide for heating oil, natural gas and other fuels, the U.S. government said Wednesday it expects households to see their heating bills jump as much as 54% compared to last winter.
Nearly half the homes in the U.S. use natural gas for heat, and they could pay an average $746 this winter, 30% more than a year ago. Those in the Midwest could get particularly pinched, with bills up an estimated 49%, and this could be the most expensive winter for natural-gas heated homes since 2008-2009.
The second-most used heating source for homes is electricity, making up 41% of the country, and those households could see a more modest 6% increase to $1,268. Homes using heating oil, which make up 4% of the country, could see a 43% increase — more than $500 — to $1,734. The sharpest increases are likely for homes that use propane, which account for 5% of U.S. households.
This winter is forecast to be slightly colder across the country than last year. That means people will likely be burning more fuel to keep warm, on top of paying more for each bit of it. If the winter ends up being even colder than forecast, heating bills could be higher than estimated, and vice-versa.
William Shatner, TV's Capt. Kirk, blasts into space
VAN HORN, Texas (AP) — Hollywood’s Captain Kirk, 90-year-old William Shatner, blasted into space Wednesday in a convergence of science fiction and science reality, reaching the final frontier aboard a ship built by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin company.
The “Star Trek” actor and three fellow passengers hurtled to an altitude of 66.5 miles (107 kilometers) over the West Texas desert in the fully automated capsule, then safely parachuted back to Earth. The flight lasted just over 10 minutes.
“What you have given me is the most profound experience," an exhilarated Shatner told Bezos after climbing out the hatch, the words spilling from him in a soliloquy almost as long as the flight. “I hope I never recover from this. I hope that I can maintain what I feel now. I don’t want to lose it.”
He said that going from the blue sky to the utter blackness of space was a moving experience: "In an instant you go, `Whoa, that’s death.' That’s what I saw.”
Shatner became the oldest person in space, eclipsing the previous record — set by a passenger on a similar jaunt on a Bezos spaceship in July — by eight years. The flight included about three minutes of weightlessness and a view of the curvature of the Earth.