A Massachusetts nurse just wanted to take a stroll on the beach when she ended up feeling the way so many have during the pandemic. But in her case, she was literally stuck in the mud. The Boston Herald reports that 54-year-old Camille Coelho had to be rescued by firefighters Thursday after getting stuck to her knees in wet sand at Boston's Constitution Beach. Coelho was with her son's lab, Lucy, who did not get stuck but stayed by her side. Coelho is a nurse at the intensive care unit at South Shore Hospital. She called it “a great metaphor for the year.”
Most local elections in April attract low voter turnout. But the small southwest Missouri town of La Russell set a new low, when not one of the town's 70 residents voted in Tuesday's election. Jasper County Clerk Charlie Davis says his office checked several times to confirm that no ballots were cast. La Russell voters have to travel 7 miles to Sarcoxie to vote. The main issue was whether La Russell should annex itself into the Avilla Fire Protection District. Avila fire officials say they'll provide fire protection for La Russell until the issue can be put on a future ballot.
Police in Sri Lanka have arrested the reigning Mrs. World for pulling the crown off the head of the winner of a Mrs. Sri Lanka beauty pageant and allegedly causing injuries. She was later released on bail. Caroline Jurie, who won the Mrs. World 2020 competition, was accused of hurting Pushpika De Silva, who won the Mrs. Sri Lanka title at a pageant held in Colombo on Sunday. Moments after De Silva won the title, Jurie came on stage and snatched the crown from her, saying she was ineligible because she was divorced. Jurie then gave the crown to the first-runner up, declaring she was the winner. De Silva has denied being divorced.
By Day 3 of being confined to his Brisbane hotel room for quarantine, David Marriott was getting bored. He’d watched a few seasons of “The Sopranos” and his eyes were getting tired from reading. Then his lunch arrived in a brown paper bowl and he thought “Aha. That’s a hat waiting to happen.” The paper cowboy was born. Using the good quality paper bags his food was delivered in each day, Marriott, an art director on TV commercials, began fashioning an outfit. Next came a horse called Russell and a creative world that becomes more intricate by the day. Marriott flew over from Australia for his dad's funeral. Like other Australians returning home, he was required to quarantine at a hotel for two weeks.
A Maine couple has hidden $20,000 somewhere in the state and they’re inviting treasure seekers to come and get it. The creators of the treasure hunt and the company behind the hunt, Dirigo Treasures LLC, are Kurt and Kelly Stokes of Newcastle. The Lincoln County News reports that the couple spent three years exploring and photographing locations around the state before creating an elaborate hide-and-seek game. They say the idea was to get people outside to explore the state, which just celebrated its bicentennial. The couple says they ensured that the quest for the hidden treasure is legal, ethical and environmentally responsible.
A 1928 church in St. Petersburg, Florida, has been renovated into a four bedroom home, complete with a large stained glass window of Jesus. Listing agent Bryan Belcher says it's slated to close at $1.3 million this week. The great room features high ceilings with the original exposed scissor trusses, and comes with a few pews. He says Bluewater Builders bought the church for $580,000 in 2018. They demolished part of the structure, got rid of the parking lot and built three homes. The property went on the market in late March and the first potential buyers offered a contract.
A male giraffe has been doing his part to promote Zoo Miami’s breeding program, with two of his long-legged babies born in the last few days. After a weekend of mother-and-child bonding, a male calf born to 14-year-old Mia made his debut on Monday. He was the 54th giraffe born at the Miami zoo, and number 55 came quickly: 6-year-old Zuri gave birth Monday to a female calf. The zoo says the two unnamed giraffe calves are the first offspring of 4-year-old father Malcolm. Giraffe populations in the wild have dropped significantly in recent years and are now officially listed as vulnerable.
One of the few copies of the comic book that introduced Superman to the world has sold for a super-sized, record-setting price. The issue of Action Comics #1 went for $3.25 million in a private sale according to ComicConnect.com, an online auction and consignment company. It narrowly bested the previous record for the comic, set in the auction of another copy in 2014 for slightly over $3.2 million. The comic, published in 1938, told readers about the origins of Superman, how he came to Earth from another planet and went by Clark Kent.
A New Hampshire teen has been credited with saving a boy more than 800 miles away, thanks to TikTok. WMUR-TV reports that 13-year-old Caden Cotnoir was watching a TikTok livestream of 12-year-old Trent Jarrett riding a four-wheeler in West Virginia, when something went awry. Caden said he could hear Jarrett yelling out numbers that turned out to be his gradparents' phone number. After a virtual call for help, Trent's parents managed to find him and lift the ATV off him. After being trapped for about 20 minutes, he sustained minor cuts and bruises. The boys met via Zoom on Monday.
A sugar maple tree in New Hampshire that is considered one of the largest in the country has been cut down for safety reasons. The tree had recently been battered by wind storms. There were concerns that its branches could come crashing down on an adjacent 18th century farmhouse in Kensington. The tree was indeed a wonder, standing over 100 feet tall with crown that also spread more than 100 feet and a diameter of around seven feet. Janet Buxton's family has lived on the property since 1954. She was sad to see it go but said she felt it was necessary.
US and World News
Sixteen states are backing Alabama’s challenge to a new method the Census Bureau is using in an effort to protect the privacy of people who participated in the head count. A judge on Monday allowed the 16 states to file briefs in a support of a lawsuit brought by Alabama last month. Alabama's lawsuit seeks to stop the Census Bureau from using the statistical method known as “differential privacy” in the numbers that will be used for redrawing congressional and legislative seats later this year. The states are Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and West Virginia. Read more
The defense has begun its case at the murder trial of former Officer Derek Chauvin after 11 days of testimony and a mountain of video depicting George Floyd’s final moments. Chauvin’s lawyer has argued that the now-fired white officer did what he was trained to do and that Floyd died because of his illegal drug use and underlying heart condition, not because of Chauvin pinning him to the pavement last May. Read more
France’s prime minister has announced the suspension of all flights between Brazil and France amid concerns over coronavirus variants. Prime Minister Jean Castex made the announcement Tuesday in parliament. He said: “We note that the situation is getting worse and so we have decided to suspend all flights between Brazil and France until further notice.” France has had 5.1 million coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, the highest number in Europe, and has seen over 99,000 die in the pandemic. The French government had been facing mounting calls from health experts for a flight suspension to further limit potential virus spread. Read more
BERLIN — Johnson & Johnson says it is delaying the rollout of its coronavirus vaccine in Europe amid a U.S. probe into rare blood clots. Read more
U.S. health officials say women seeking an abortion pill will not be required to visit a doctor’s office or clinic during the COVID-19 pandemic. The announcement Tuesday from the Food and Drug Administration is the latest reversal in an ongoing legal battle over the medication. The FDA announced the policy change in a letter to a medical group that had sued over the restriction put in place under the Trump administration. The FDA’s acting head says an agency review found no serious safety concerns when women take the pill without first visiting a health facility. The change clears the way for women to get a prescription via telemedicine and receive it through the mail. Read more
An Iranian nuclear negotiator says Tehran will begin enriching uranium up to 60% purity after an attack on its Natanz nuclear facility. That's a higher level than the program has enriched to before but remains short of weapons-grade. Abbas Araghchi’s announcement Tuesday marks a significant escalation after the sabotage, suspected to have been carried out by Israel. It could result in further action by Israel, whose Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed never to allow Tehran to obtain a nuclear weapon, and further raise tensions across the Mideast. Iran’s foreign minister earlier warned that the weekend assault could hurt ongoing negotiations over its tattered atomic deal with world powers. Read more
The Minnesota Twins have rescheduled their postponed game with the Boston Red Sox as part of a straight, seven-inning doubleheader on Wednesday. The Twins called off the series opener on Monday. The postponement followed a fatal police shooting a day earlier of a Black man in a nearby suburb, out of sensitivity to the situation and precaution for safety. The games on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons remain on schedule. The Monday game was tacked on to Wednesday’s, to begin about 30 minutes after completion of the first game. The doubleheader will consist of seven-inning games. Read more
The casket of slain U.S. Capitol Police Officer William “Billy” Evans has arrived at the Capitol where it will lie in honor in the Rotunda. President Joe Biden and congressional leaders will pay their respects to Evans, who was struck by a car and killed while he manned a barricade near the Senate side of the building. It's the second such memorial ceremony this year for a force that has edged close to crisis in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. Members of the National Guard lined the street and saluted the hearse carrying Evans’ flag-draped casket. His family, including his two children, watched as his casket was carried up the Capitol steps. Read more
Allentown police report that Jamal Brazell tried to rob a Center City bank Read more
Leaders of volcano-wracked St. Vincent say that water is running short as heavy ash contaminates supplies and they estimated that the eastern Caribbean island will need hundreds of millions of dollars to recover from the eruption of La Soufriere. Between 16,000 to 20,000 people have been evacuated from the island’s northern region, where the exploding volcano is located. More than 3,000 of them staying at more than 80 government shelters. Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said Tuesday no casualties have been reported, but he urged holdouts to evacuate. Falling ash and pyroclastic flows have destroyed crops and contaminated water reservoirs. Read more
Japan’s government has decided to start releasing treated radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean in two years. The decision was long speculated but delayed by safety concerns and protests. Cabinet ministers endorsed it as the best option, though it is fiercely opposed by fishermen, residents and Japan’s neighbors. The water has been used to cool the melted fuel at the nuclear plant damaged by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, but the tanks where it's stored will be full late next year. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said ocean release was the most realistic option and that disposing the water is unavoidable for the decommissioning of the Fukushima plant, which is expected to take decades. Read more
The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in using the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday they were investigating clots in six women in the days after vaccination, in combination with reduced platelet counts. More than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been given in the U.S., the vast majority with no or mild side effects. A CDC committee will meet Wednesday to discuss the cases and the FDA has also launched an investigation. Read more
The large, brightly colored art installations of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama are part of an expansive new show called “Kusama: Cosmic Nature” at The New York Botanical Garden. Kusama is best known for polka dots and pumpkins. Her work also reflects a lifelong engagement with nature. The botanical garden show includes floral displays and gardens, galleries and a photo exhibit. Many of the works are large and outdoors so viewers can be socially distanced. Attendance is limited by coronavirus rules but ticket sales have been brisk in a city that's hungry for more outdoor cultural events. Read more
Johnson & Johnson says it is delaying the rollout of its coronavirus vaccine in Europe amid a U.S. probe into rare blood clots. The company announced the decision Tuesday after regulators in the United States said they were recommending a “pause” in administering the single-dose shot to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. The company said, “We have made the decision to proactively delay the rollout of our vaccine in Europe.” Hundreds of thousands of doses of the vaccine were due to be shipped to Europe in the coming weeks. The European Medicines Agency says it had already started reviewing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to assess reports of blood clots in some recipients. Read more
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says he is expanding the U.S. military presence in Germany by 500 troops and has stopped planning for large-scale troop cuts ordered by the Trump administration. Austin said Tuesday in Berlin the planned increase in U.S. personnel underscores the U.S. “commitment to Germany and the entire NATO alliance.” That's a notable counterpoint to the Trump administration’s repeated complaints that Germany is a weak partner on defense and security. Austin made the announcement after talks with Germany's defense minister on his first tour of Europe since becoming Pentagon chief in January. Austin says the move will create “more space, more cyber, and more electronic warfare capabilities in Europe.” Read more
Britain has begun offering coronavirus vaccinations to anyone over 45 after hitting its target of giving at least one dose to everyone over 50 by the middle of April. The government said all residents over 50, health care workers and people with serious medical conditions had been offered a jab, and about 95% of them received one. As a result, the government launched the second phase of its inoculation campaign on Tuesday by expanding eligibility to people ages 45 to 49. Despite the good news, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that the U.K. would inevitably see “more hospitalization and deaths” as it emerges from lockdown. Read more
Stocks were off to a mixed start on Tuesday as a drop in bond yields hurt bank stocks but helped big technology stocks. The S&P 500 index was up 0.1% early Tuesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.5% and the Nasdaq was up 0.8%. The divergence between the Nasdaq and the Dow was largely due to the fact the Dow has more bank stocks while the Nasdaq is heavily weighted with technology companies. Dow component Johnson & Johnson fell 2.2% after U.S. regulators recommended a pause in using its single-dose COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of possibly dangerous blood clots. Read more
The United States and NATO are expressing strong support for Ukraine and warning Russia against pressing ahead with a major troop buildup along the former Soviet republic's eastern border. In separate meetings with Ukraine's foreign minister, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said developments along the Russia-Ukraine border are of serious concern with the largest concentration of Russian troops in the area since 2014. Blinken accused Russia of taking “very provocative” actions that have alarmed Ukraine and the West. Stoltenberg called the Russian movements “unjustified, unexplained and deeply concerning.” NATO is holding a special meeting Tuesday on Ukraine. Read more
Facebook’s quasi-independent Oversight Board says it will start letting users file appeals over posts, photos, and videos that they think the company shouldn’t have allowed to stay on its platforms. The board said Tuesday that it will accept content complaints from users who have already exhausted Facebook’s appeals process. Until now, users could only appeal to the Oversight Board when their own content was taken down by Facebook. Facebook set up the oversight panel last year amid furious criticism about its inability to respond to a tide of misinformation, hate speech and other harmful content. The board is empowered to make binding rulings on whether posts or ads violate the company’s rules. Read more
U.S. consumer prices increased a sharp 0.6% in March, the biggest increase since 2012, while inflation over the past year rose a sizable 2.6%. The big gains were expected to be a temporary blip and not a sign that long dormant inflation pressures were emerging. The Labor Department reported Tuesday that the March increase in its consumer price index followed a 0.4% increase in February and was the biggest one-month gain since a 0.6% rise in August 2012. While the 2.6% advance was significantly higher than the Federal Reserve’s 2% target for inflation, the jump reflected in large part the fact that a year ago prices were actually falling as the pandemic shut down the country. Read more
Spain's prime minister wants the massive windfall of European Union pandemic recovery funds to transform the nation after the devastation caused by the pandemic. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez's plan puts a strong emphasis on a greener economy and the digitalization of both businesses and local governments. Spain is set to receive 140 billion euros ($166 billion) from the 750 billion-euro ($908 billion) recovery plan adopted by EU leaders last year. Sánchez says the injection of funds from Brussels is a chance to “transform” Spain's economy into a greener one, and help restore its economy, which has been devastated by the pandemic. Read more
Muslims in many parts of the world are marking the start of Ramadan as coronavirus cases spike in some countries. That means restrictions on signature features of the holy month that started Tuesday, such as large evening feasts and lengthy prayers in mosques. Unlike last year, however, mosques have reopened for Ramadan prayers as vaccine rollouts continue in Muslim-majority nations like Indonesia. Clerics have issued assurances the vaccine does not break one's daytime fast. In other countries, Muslims will have to once again perform Ramadan with nighttime curfews in place. Read more
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny says he is suing the prison where he is serving time outside Moscow for access to the Quran. The politician who is Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critic said he hasn’t been given access to any of the books he ordered over the past month, including the Muslim holy book, because they all need to be “inspected for extremism.” Navalny said Tuesday he realized his “development as a Christian requires studying the Quran.” He was imprisoned after returning to Moscow from Germany, where he spent five months recuperating from nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin. The Kremlin has denied the accusation. Read more
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently extended its eviction moratorium through the end of June. The agency has said the policy helps stop the spread of the coronavirus by limiting the number of people who lose their housing and have to live in shared housing, homeless shelters or on the streets. Opponents say the ban is a constitutional overreach. Public health law experts say the CDC’s eviction ban is unprecedented, but they say it is necessary to stop the spread of the coronavirus. And there’s a growing body of public health research showing an association between housing troubles and health problems. Read more
President Joe Biden has begun publicly courting Republicans to back his sweeping infrastructure plan, but his reach across the aisle is intended just as much to keep Democrats in line as it is a first step in an uphill climb to any bipartisan deal. The White House says Biden’s high-profile Oval Office meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Monday was just one piece of his effort to win over GOP lawmakers. But even if it doesn’t succeed, it could prove useful by boxing in Republicans while helping to keep the widely disparate Democrats in line. Read more
A Swiss project to lay the diplomatic groundwork for future scientific breakthroughs is gathering momentum ahead of a planned international summit. Backers of the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator want to bridge the Swiss city’s image as a hub for conflict resolution with visionary scientific ambitions on big-picture issues. The initiative, bankrolled by Switzerland’s government, is gearing up to develop long-term projects, like a global court for scientific disputes and a Manhattan Project-style effort to rid excess carbon from the atmosphere. The “do tank” presented its first activity report Tuesday and announced plans for a summit in October bringing together hundreds of United Nations officials, Nobel laureates, academics, diplomats, advocacy groups and the public. Read more
Global Citizen will push for the world’s poorest countries to quickly receive COVID-19 vaccines for their medical workers with an international concert fundraiser hosted by Selena Gomez and headlined by Jennifer Lopez. “VAX Live: The Concert to Reunite the World” – which hopes to raise $22.1 billion by calling on corporations and philanthropists to fund international vaccination efforts – will air May 8 on ABC, CBS, FOX, as well as iHeartMedia radio stations and YouTube. Foo Fighters, Eddie Vedder, J Balvin and H.E.R. are also set to perform at the concert, which will be recorded at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. Read more
J.K. Rowling has a new book coming this fall, a holiday children’s story with all new characters. Scholastic announced Tuesday that “The Christmas Pig,” the story of a boy named Jack and a beloved toy (Dur Pig) which goes missing, will be released worldwide Oct. 12. Rowling is best known for her “Harry Potter” fantasy series, but also has published detective novels under the penname J.K. Galbraith and such children’s works as “The Ickabog.” Her new book will be illustrated by Jim Field. Read more
The U.S. government’s highway safety agency is investigating complaints that the air bags may not inflate in a crash on thousands of General Motors vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the probe covers nearly 750,000 Chevrolet, Cadillac and GMC vehicles from 2020 and 2021. Most are full-size pickup trucks and SUVs. The agency says it has 15 complaints of air bag malfunctions, including six crashes with eight reported injuries. It says that GM issued a service bulletin to dealers about the problem in March, but there hasn’t been a recall. The agency says it opened the investigation to figure out how large the problem is and to assess safety issues. Read more