Distrust in America: Small mistakes, deep fear — and gunfire
In suburban Detroit, it was a lost 14-year-old looking for directions. In Kansas City, it was a 16-year-old who went to the wrong house to pick up his younger brothers. There was the 12-year-old rummaging around in a yard in small-town Alabama, the 20-year-old woman who found herself in the wrong driveway in upstate New York and the cheerleaders who got into the wrong car in Texas. All of them, and dozens more across America, were met by gunfire. In the United States, strangers are often seen as threats and fear has been politicized. And now simple acts like ringing the wrong doorbell can seem like a fateful question of trust.
Twitter begins removing blue checks from users who don’t pay
This time it’s for real. Many of Twitter’s high-profile users are have lost the blue check marks that helped verify their identity and distinguish them from impostors on the Elon Musk-owned social media platform. After several false starts, Twitter began making good on its promise Thursday to remove the blue checks from accounts that don’t pay a monthly fee to keep them. Twitter had about 300,000 verified users under the original blue check system — many of them journalists, athletes and public figures.
4th arrest made in Alabama Sweet 16 birthday party shooting
DADEVILLE, Ala. (AP) — A fourth man has been arrested and charged with murder in connection with a weekend shooting at a Sweet 16 party that killed four young people in Alabama. The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency announced the arrest Thursday of 20-year-old Johnny Letron Brown of Tuskegee. Brown is charged with four counts of reckless murder, the same as three other defendants arrested earlier in the case. Four young people were killed and 32 others were hurt in Saturday’s shooting at the birthday celebration in Dadeville, a small city in east Alabama. It was the 16th mass killing in the U.S. this year.
SpaceX giant rocket explodes minutes after launch from Texas
SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas (AP) — SpaceX’s giant new rocket exploded minutes after blasting off on its first test flight and crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. Elon Musk’s company was aiming Thursday to send Starship on a round-the-world trip from the southern tip of Texas, near the Mexican border. The biggest and most powerful rocket ever built carried no people or satellites. SpaceX plans to use Starship to send people and cargo to the moon and, ultimately, Mars. A stuck valve scrapped Monday’s try. Throngs of spectators watched from several miles away from the Boca Chica Beach launch site, which was off-limits.
More peril for Trump in pending probes than NY: AP-NORC poll
WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Donald Trump has emerged largely unscathed politically from his New York indictment. But a new poll suggests that investigations in Georgia and Washington could prove more problematic with the public. The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey finds that 4 in 10 U.S. adults believe Trump acted illegally in New York, where he has been charged in connection to hush money payments made to women who alleged sexual encounters. The poll finds about half of all U.S. adults believe he broke the law in Georgia, where he is under investigation for interfering in the 2020 election vote count.
Muslims end Ramadan, begin holiday amid war, reconciliation
BEIRUT (AP) — Large parts of the Muslim world are preparing to celebrate the end of the fasting month of Ramadan and the start of the holiday of Eid al-Fitr, but the festivities are overshadowed in many parts of the region by conflict and tragedy. In Sudan, the joy of the coming holiday was eclipsed by violent battles between the army and its rival paramilitary force, despite an attempted cease-fire, that have killed hundreds of people. In Yemen, a stampede at a Ramadan charity killed at least 78 people. In Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population worldwide, the second-largest Islamic group, Muhammadiyah, said the holiday starts on Friday. The country’s religious affairs minister said Thursday it will fall on Saturday.
House approves trans athlete ban for girls and women’s teams
WASHINGTON (AP) — Transgender athletes whose biological sex assigned at birth was male would be barred from competing on girls or women’s sports teams at federally supported schools and colleges under legislation pushed through by House Republicans on Thursday. It’s the latest sign of the newly empowered GOP checking off a high-profile item on their social agenda. The legislation is unlikely to advance further because the Democratic-led Senate will not support it and the White House said President Joe Biden would veto it. Supporters say their effort is designed to protect fair competition in sports. Democrats criticized the push as targeting a vulnerable group of young people for political gain.
IRS agent alleges Hunter Biden probe is being mishandled
WASHINGTON (AP) — An IRS special agent is seeking whistleblower protection to disclose information regarding what the agent contends is mishandling of an investigation into President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. That is according to a letter to Congress obtained by The Associated Press. The attorney for the whistleblower Mark Lytle wrote to lawmakers Wednesday that his client has information about a “failure to mitigate clear conflicts of interest in the ultimate disposition,” of the criminal investigation related to the younger Biden’s taxes and foreign business work. Hunter Biden has been under federal investigation by a federal grand jury in Delaware since at least 2018. So far no charges have been filed.
BuzzFeed to close news division, cut 15% of all staff
Pulitzer Prize winning digital media company BuzzFeed will shut down its news division as it cuts about 15% of its entire staff. In a memo sent to staff, co-founder and CEO Jonah Peretti said that cuts would also occur across its business, content, tech and administrative teams, according to multiple media reports. BuzzFeed is also considering making job cuts in some international markets. Peretti said in a memo to staff that he “made the decision to overinvest” in the news division, but failed to recognize early enough that the financial support needed to sustain operations was not there.
Part party, part call to action: A look at pot holiday 4/20
SEATTLE (AP) — It’s 4/20, the high holiday for marijuana enthusiasts, and it’s falling this year as the U.S. government reviews its cannabis policy and as more states have legalized the drug. People are lighting up Thursday for a celebration that traces its origins to some bell-bottomed California high-schoolers. The day has come to cover both political calls-to-action and festivities like block parties, music festivals and pot shop discounts. There has been a proliferation of legal marijuana measures since Washington and Colorado in 2012 became the first states to legalize the recreational use of cannabis by adults. Things have progressed much more slowly at the federal level.
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