Vaccine inequity: Inside the cutthroat race to secure doses
PARIS (AP) — No one disputes that the world is unfair. But no one expected a vaccine gap between the global rich and poor that was this bad, this far into the pandemic.
Inequity is everywhere: Inoculations go begging in the United States while Haiti, a short plane ride away, received its first delivery July 15 after months of promises — 500,000 doses for a population over 11 million. Canada has procured more than 10 doses for every resident; Sierra Leone’s vaccination rate just cracked 1% on June 20.
It’s like a famine in which “the richest guys grab the baker,” said Strive Masiyiwa, the African Union’s envoy for vaccine acquisition.
In fact, European and American officials deeply involved in bankrolling and distributing the vaccines against coronavirus have told The Associated Press there was no thought of how to handle the situation globally. Instead, they jostled for their own domestic use.
But there are more specific reasons why vaccines have and have not reached the haves and have-nots.
GOP governor’s vaccination tour reveals depths of distrust
TEXARKANA, Ark. (AP) — Free lottery tickets for those who get vaccinated had few takers. Free hunting and fishing licenses didn’t change many minds either. And this being red-state Arkansas, mandatory vaccinations are off the table.
So Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson has hit the road, meeting face-to-face with residents to try to overcome vaccine hesitancy — in many cases, hostility — in Arkansas, which has the highest rate of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. but is near the very bottom in dispensing shots.
He is meeting with residents like Harvey Woods, who was among five dozen people who gathered at a convention center ballroom in Texarkana on Thursday night. Most of the audience wasn’t masked, and neither was Hutchinson, who has been vaccinated.
Woods, 67, introduced himself to Hutchinson as “anti-vax” and said that he thinks there are too many questions about the effects of the vaccine and that he doesn’t believe the information from the federal government about them is reliable.
Hutchinson and his top health official tried to reassure Woods about the Food and Drug Administration’s review process. But Hutchinson had a question for Woods.
California fire prompts evacuations; Oregon blaze balloons
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A rapidly growing wildfire south of Lake Tahoe jumped a highway, prompting more evacuation orders and the cancellation of an extreme bike ride through the Sierra Nevada on Saturday as critically dangerous wildfire weather loomed in the coming days.
The Tamarack Fire, which was sparked by lightning on July 4, exploded overnight and was over 32 square miles (82 square kilometers) as of Saturday evening, according to the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. The blaze was threatening Markleeville, a small town close to the California-Nevada state line. It has destroyed at least three structures, authorities said, and was burning toward the Alpine County Airport after jumping a highway.
A notice posted on the 103-mile (165-kilometer) Death Ride’s website said several communities in the area had been evacuated and ordered all riders to clear the area. The fire left thousands of bikers and spectators stranded in the small town and racing to get out.
Kelli Pennington and her family were camping near the town Friday so her husband could participate in his ninth ride when they were told to leave. They had been watching smoke develop over the course of the day, but were caught off guard by the fire’s quick spread.
“It happened so fast,” Pennington said. “We left our tents, hammock and some foods, but we got most of our things, shoved our two kids in the car and left.”
Europe flooding toll over 180 as rescuers dig deeper
BERLIN (AP) — The death toll from flooding in Western Europe climbed above 180 on Sunday after rescue workers dug deeper into debris left by receding waters. Heavy rain fueled new floods in southeastern Germany and Austria, though not on the scale of last week’s devastating onslaught.
Police put the toll from the hard-hit Ahrweiler area of western Germany’s Rhineland-Palatinate state at more than 110 and said they feared the number may still rise. In neighboring North Rhine-Westphalia state, Germany’s most populous, 45 people were confirmed dead, including four firefighters. And Belgium has confirmed 27 casualties.
Chancellor Angela Merkel was due to visit Schuld, a village near Ahrweiler that was devastated by the flooding, later Sunday. Her visit comes after Germany’s president went to the area on Saturday and made clear that it will need long-term support.
Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said he will propose a package of immediate aid at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, telling the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that more than 300 million euros ($354 million) will be needed. And he said that officials must start setting up a rebuilding program which, from experience with previous flooding, will be in the billions of euros.
Although rain has stopped in the worst-affected areas of Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, storms and downpours have persisted in other parts of western and central Europe. There was flooding Saturday night in the German-Czech border area, across the country from where last week’s floods hit, and in Germany’s southeastern corner and over the border in Austria.
Padres-Nats game suspended after shooting outside DC stadium
WASHINGTON (AP) — The game between the San Diego Padres and Washington was suspended in the sixth inning Saturday night after a shooting outside Nationals Park that caused echoes of gunfire inside the stadium and prompted fans to scramble for safety in the dugout.
The shooting, an exchange of gunfire between people in two cars, left three people injured, according to Ashan Benedict, the Metropolitan Police Department’s executive assistant police chief. One of the people who was shot was a woman who was attending the game and who was struck while she was outside the stadium, he said. Her injuries weren’t considered life-threatening.
Two people who were in one of the cars later walked into a local hospital with gunshot wounds and were being questioned by investigators, Benedict said, and the extent of their injuries wasn’t immediately clear. Investigators were still trying to locate the second vehicle involved in the shooting.
The gunshots caused panic among fans inside the stadium, some of whom ducked for cover, hiding underneath tables and behind seats as announcers warned people to stay inside the park.
“It was just a chaotic scene,” umpire crew chief Mark Carlson told The Associated Press. “We heard what sounded like rapid gunfire. We didn’t know where it was coming from.”
AP FACT CHECK: Trump makes false claims about Arizona audit
PHOENIX (AP) — Former President Donald Trump issued three statements in two days falsely claiming that voting fraud and irregularities cost him Arizona’s electoral votes.
Trump relied on comments made Thursday by contractors hired by state Senate Republicans to oversee a partisan review of the 2020 vote count in Maricopa County, which includes metro Phoenix.
The “forensic audit,” as Senate GOP leaders are calling their review, is overseen by Cyber Ninjas, a small computer security firm with no election experience before Trump began questioning the 2020 results. Its CEO, Doug Logan, spread false conspiracy theories about the election before he was hired to lead the Arizona review.
Logan and Ben Cotton, a digital forensics analyst working on the audit, described issues they say need further review. Trump has parroted them as evidence the election results are tainted.
County officials and elections experts say the claims are false and based on a misunderstanding of election materials, which they say creates an appearance of irregularities where none exists.
Analysis: How Afghan war showed limits of US military power
WASHINGTON (AP) — It took only two months for U.S. invaders to topple the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001, a seemingly tidy success against a government that had given refuge to 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden. Twenty years later, the United States is withdrawing — visions of victory long vanished and an ascendant Taliban arguably within reach of restoring their rule.
Afghanistan proved to be a lesson in the limits of America’s military power.
It demonstrated the seeming paradox that it is possible to win the battles and still lose the war. Or at least that a technologically superior force can kill more efficiently than its enemy yet fail to achieve a final result resembling victory.
It showed that in the 21st century, it takes more than a conquering army, even one as well armed as America’s, to convert the overthrow of a government, even one as tenuous as the Taliban’s, into a lasting success. It showed that it takes, at a minimum, an understanding of local politics, history and culture that the Americans were slow to acquire.
The United States underestimated how much its presence as an occupier fueled Taliban motivation to fight and limited the Kabul government’s ability to unite. Although bin Laden eventually was killed and his al-Qaida network blunted as an international threat, Afghans are still caught in a cycle of violence and misrule with no end in sight.
France: Thousands protest against vaccination, COVID passes
PARIS (AP) — Over 100,000 people protested across France on Saturday against the government’s latest measures to push people to get vaccinated and curb rising infections by the delta variant of the coronavirus.
In Paris, separate protest marches by the far-right and the far-left wound through different parts of the city. Demonstrations were also held in Strasbourg in the east, Lille in the north, Montpellier in the south and elsewhere.
Thousands of people answered calls to take to the streets by Florian Philippot, a fringe far-right politician and former right hand of Marine Le Pen who announced earlier this month that he would run in the 2022 presidential election. Gathered a stone’s throw away from the Louvre Museum, protesters chanted “Macron, clear off!”, “Freedom,” and banged metal spoons on saucepans.
While Philippot has organized small but regular protests against the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, Saturday’s demonstration drew a larger and more diverse crowd of people broadly disaffected with politics: yellow vest activists angry over perceived economic injustice, far-right supporters, medical staff and royalists.
They denounced the government’s decision on Monday to make vaccines compulsory for all health care workers, and to require a “health pass” proving people are fully vaccinated, have recently tested negative or recovered from the virus in order to access restaurants and other public venues. President Emmanuel Macron’s government is presenting a draft law Monday to enshrine the measures.
Martine Moïse, wife of slain president, returns to Haiti
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Martine Moïse, the wife of Haiti’s assassinated president who was injured in the July 7 attack at their private home, returned to the Caribbean nation on Saturday following her release from a Miami hospital.
Her arrival was unannounced and surprised many in the country of more than 11 million people still reeling from the killing of Jovenel Moïse in a raid authorities say involved Haitians, Haitian-Americans and former Colombian soldiers.
Martine Moïse disembarked the flight at the Port-au-Prince airport wearing a black dress, a black bulletproof jacket, a black face mask, and her right arm in a black sling as she slowly walked down the steps of what appeared to be a private plan one by one. She was greeted by Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph and other officials.
Earlier this week, she tweeted from the Miami hospital that she could not believe her husband, Jovenel Moïse, was gone “without saying a last word,” she wrote. “This pain will never pass.”
On Friday, government officials had announced that Jovenel Moïse’s funeral would be held on July 23 in the northern Haitian city of Cap-Haitien and that his wife is expected to attend.
Bucks edge Suns 123-119 to take 3-2 lead in NBA Finals
PHOENIX (AP) — Jrue Holiday seized his chance to give the Milwaukee Bucks the lead in the NBA Finals.
Took it right out of Devin Booker’s hands, actually.
Holiday’s steal and alley-oop pass to Giannis Antetokounmpo for a dunk sealed a wild Game 5 and gave the Bucks a 123-119 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night.
“It’s who he is,” teammate Pat Connaughton said. “He’s a winner.”
And for the first time in 50 years, the Bucks have a chance to be.