AP Top News at 6:45 a.m. – Sentinel & Enterprise


WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — President Donald Trump has signed a $900 billion pandemic relief package, ending days of drama over his refusal to accept the bipartisan deal that will deliver long-sought cash to businesses and individuals and avert a federal government shutdown. The massive bill includes $1.4 trillion to fund government agencies through September and contains other end-of-session priorities such as an increase in food stamp benefits. The signing Sunday, at his private club in Florida came amid escalating criticism over his eleventh-hour demands for larger, $2,000 relief checks and scaled-back spending even though the bill had already passed the House and Senate by wide margins.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — With federal officials having identified the man believed to be behind Nashville’s Christmas Day bombing, authorities now turn to the monumental task of piecing together the motive behind the explosion that severely damaged dozens of downtown buildings and injured three people. While officials on Sunday named Anthony Quinn Warner, 63, as the man behind the mysterious explosion in which he was killed, the motive has remained elusive. “These answers won’t come quickly and will still require a lot of our team’s efforts,” FBI Special Agent Doug Korneski said at a Sunday news conference. “Though we may be able to answer some these questions as our investigation continues, none of those answers will be enough by those affected by this event.” In just a few days, hundreds of tips and leads have been submitted to law enforcement agencies.

Elections are meant to resolve arguments. This one inflamed them. Weeks after the votes have been counted and the winners declared, many Americans remain angry, defiant and despairing. Millions now harbor new grievances borne of President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud. Many Democrats are saddened by results that revealed the opposition to be far more powerful than they imagined. And in both groups there are those grappling with larger, more disquieting realizations: The foundations of the American experiment have been shaken — by partisan rancor, disinformation, a president’s assault on democracy and a deadly coronavirus pandemic. There is a sense of loss.

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GLENSHAW, Pa. (AP) — The enormous signs, selling for just $9.99, greet shoppers at the suburban supermarket’s entryway, carrying a holiday message that means something very different this year: “GATHER,” they shout, even as the state’s governor urges citizens to do precisely otherwise. To come together or to stay apart: one of the countless, sometimes excruciating dilemmas that Americans find themselves caught between as a disheartening year is finally and enthusiastically shown the door. They’re caught between presidents, one of whom is clear that he really doesn’t want to go away. They’re between a ragged year of pandemic and either a successful vaccine or another chapter of upheaval.

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — Neha loved the hymns that filled her church with music. But she lost the chance to sing them last year when, at the age of 14, she was forcibly converted from Christianity to Islam and married to a 45-year-old man with children twice her age. She tells her story in a voice so low it occasionally fades away. She all but disappears as she wraps a blue scarf tightly around her face and head. Neha’s husband is in jail now facing charges of rape for the underage marriage, but she is in hiding, afraid after security guards confiscated a pistol from his brother in court.

As Monica Harvey watched, crowds flocked to a Sam’s Club in northern Arizona where she works, picking shelves clean of toilet paper and canned goods. Native American seniors couldn’t move fast enough, and Harvey saw their faces fall when they reached empty shelves. The Navajo woman wanted to help tribal elders get household staples without leaving their homes and risking exposure to COVID-19, so she started Defend Our Community, a group that delivers supplies. Tribes across the nation are working to protect elder members who serve as honored links to customs passed from one generation to the next. The efforts to deliver protective gear, meals and vaccines are about more than saving lives.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. health officials believe the coronavirus mutation that set off alarms in parts of Britain is no more apt to cause serious illness or be resistant to vaccines than the strain afflicting people in the United States but it still must be taken “very seriously,” the government’s top infectious disease expert said Sunday. Dr. Anthony Fauci endorsed the decision of U.S. officials to require negative COVID-19 tests before letting people from Britain enter the U.S. He declined to weigh in on whether that step should have been taken sooner. He said the variant strain is something “to follow very carefully” and “we’re looking at it very intensively now.”

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Coronavirus infections have barely touched many of the remote islands of the Pacific, but the pandemic’s fallout has been enormous, disrupting the supply chain that brings crucial food imports and sending prices soaring as tourism wanes. With a food crisis looming, many governments have begun community initiatives to help alleviate shortages: extending fishing seasons, expanding indigenous food gathering lessons and bolstering seed distribution programs that allow residents greater self-reliance. “We initially started with 5,000 seeds and thought we would finish them in nine months’ time. But there was a very big response, and we finished distributing the seeds in one week,” said Vinesh Kumar, head of operation for Fiji’s Agriculture Ministry.

HAMDAYET, Sudan (AP) — One survivor arrived on broken legs, others on the run. In this fragile refugee community on the edge of Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict, those who have fled nearly two months of deadly fighting continue to bring new accounts of horror. At a simple clinic in Sudan, one doctor-turned-refugee, Tewodros Tefera, examines the wounds of war: Children injured in explosions. Gashes from axes and knives. Broken ribs from beatings. Feet scraped raw from days of hiking to safety. On a recent day, he treated the shattered legs of fellow refugee Guesh Tesla, a recent arrival. The 54-year-old carpenter came bearing news of some 250 young men abducted to an unknown fate from a single village, Adi Aser, into neighboring Eritrea by Eritrean forces, whose involvement Ethiopia denies.

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Coronavirus restrictions that have significantly limited his public appearances. Warning signals for an economy battered by pandemic-related border closings and natural disasters. The impending departure of a U.S. president who said he “fell in love” with him. As North Korean leader Kim Jong Un grapples with the toughest challenges of his nine-year rule, he’s set to open a massive ruling Workers’ Party congress next month to try to muster stronger public loyalty to him and lay out new economic and foreign policies. While few question Kim’s grip on power, there is still room for things to get worse, especially if the world fails to find a quick way out of the COVID-19 crisis.

 



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