Suspect sought in Ore. hit-run, shooting that leave 3 dead
COOS BAY, Ore. (AP) — Police searched Friday for a suspect believed to have killed three people in a wave of violence that included a hit-and-run crash and a shooting at a pot shop in a small Oregon city.
The first person found dead was struck by a pickup truck at an RV park in the coastal city of North Bend, about 220 miles southwest of Portland, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. A woman also was injured in the crash and taken to a hospital, where she was in critical condition, Coos County District Attorney Paul Frasier said at a news conference.
A few minutes after the wreck, police received reports of gunshots at a cannabis shop, where one person was killed. Officials believe the same suspect is responsible for the shooting and the hit-and-run crash.
After the shooting, Frasier said the suspect went to a nearby sporting goods store and bought more ammunition.
Meanwhile, police had gone back to the RV park to search a trailer that was registered to the same person as the truck and found a body believed to belong to the owner of both, Frasier said. The prosecutor did not say how that victim died but that “there is no question in my mind this person died of homicidal violence.”
None of the victims has been identified, and Frasier said it was unclear what, if any, connection they had to the suspect.
Police began searching for a white 2019 Dodge 3500 pickup, which was later found on a highway north of where the killings took place. The truck had crashed and been set on fire, Frasier said.
A witness told investigators that the driver appeared to be armed with a handgun at the time of the crash and had run into the woods.
New jobless claims in Clark County near normal
Clark County residents’ initial unemployment insurance claims are back to pre-pandemic levels, according to the Employment Security Department; last week, initial claims dropped substantially, from 455 to 317 and 225 were already in the ESD’s system going back to the first week of the pandemic.
“That was close to a normal number,” said Scott Bailey, regional economist for Southwest Washington. “The first week of March last year had 310 initial claims.”
Continued unemployment insurance claims are still high but slowly dropping; last week, there were 13,560 claims, down from 13,580 the week prior. Over the past four weeks, the number of continued claims filed has dropped by 500.
“We still have thousands of continued claims,” Bailey said. “The drop in that has been very slow.”
The leisure and hospitality industry had the most continued unemployment insurance claimants at 1,054 last week. Health care and social assistance claims came in at 793, retail trade at 792, construction at 724 and manufacturing at 664 claims.
Continued claims for managers were the most numerous in occupation groups, at 1,839. Food service workers filed 1,484 claims and sales workers filed 1,393 claims.
“Claimant demographics remained roughly the same, with over representation of African Americans, Indigenous people, Pacific Islanders, women, those with a high school diploma or GED in terms of formal education,” Bailey said.
MOVE’s ‘Minister of Confrontation,’ Consuewella Africa, dies
Consuewella Dotson Africa, a longtime member of the Black organization MOVE and mother of two children killed in the 1985 bombing of the group’s home in Philadelphia, has died at 67.
She died Wednesday at a hospital. A member of the MOVE family, Janine Africa, said Consuewella Africa had tested positive for the coronavirus when she went to the hospital around the beginning of the month, but had largely recovered when doctors said last week she was not getting enough oxygen.
“Through the stress with everything that was happening, her body just could not fight to get the air in her lungs because she was too burnt out and tore down from the stress,” Janine Africa told The Associated Press. “So that is what caused her to die.”
Africa’s death follows painful revelations in the last few months about the treatment of the remains of her two daughters who were killed in the police bombing of the organization’s home, where 11 members — including five children — were killed and more than 60 homes were burnt to the ground.
Her daughters, 14-year-old Katricia “Tree” and 12-year-old Zanetta “Netta,” died in the bombing while Consuewella Africa was in prison serving a 16-year-sentence for simple assault related to the city’s 1978 attempt to evict the group during which a police officer was killed.
In April, MOVE learned that an anthropology professor at the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University had been given remains by the city’s medical examiner believed to be one of Consuewella’s children, and he had used the remains in teaching lessons without the permission or knowledge of family members.
In May, the city notified the group that partial human remains from the bombing had been cremated and disposed of without notifying family members. A day later, following the resignation of the city’s top health official, the city reversed themselves, saying the remains had been located.
Janine Africa said having to revisit the killing of her children and the targeting of the group took a toll on Consuewella.
“Once again, another death at the hands of the city of Philadelphia because they just took everything out of her with this last thing here,” Janine Africa said. “Because she was reliving 1985 all over again, thinking about the children all over again and it just really broke her heart.”
In May, members of the organization marked the 36th anniversary of the bombing in West Philadelphia that destroyed a swath of the neighborhood and took their loved ones.
“She was there and full of life and fire and fight and there was no way that we could see this coming,” Janine Africa said.
Consuewella Africa held the title “Minister of Confrontation” for MOVE, which identifies as both a family and an organization.
“She was a no nonsense straight forward person, but on the same hand, she was always making people laugh, always lively, always getting things going, getting people, having a good time,” Janine Africa said.
Her biological brother, sister and husband were with her when she died and her surviving son joined by phone, Janine Africa said.
MOVE wrote in a June 16 post on their website that the remains of Tree Africa were sent by the University of Pennsylvania to a funeral home where the organization can pick them up.
“We hope that we can put Tree and Consuewella together,” they wrote.
Migrant family In Greece hints at pushbacks
VATHY, Greece — Around dawn one recent spring day, an inflatable dinghy carrying nearly three dozen people reached the Greek island of Samos from the nearby Turkish coast. Within 24 hours, refugee rights groups say, the same group was seen drifting in a life raft back to Turkey.
But of the 32 people determined to have initially made it to Samos, only 28 were in the raft the Turkish coast guard reported retrieving at sea.
Four days later, the missing four — a Palestinian woman and her three children — appeared in Samos’ main town of Vathy, apparently having eluded Greek authorities. She applied for asylum and last week was informed their application had been accepted.
“I consider that the arrival of this woman, if we’re not speaking of a miracle, of a virgin birth, of her falling from the sky, we’re speaking of clear proof of a pushback,” said Dimitris Choulis, the lawyer who helped 31-year-old Huda Zaga apply for asylum, along with her 12-year-old daughter and sons, aged 11 and 5.
Accusations from rights groups and migrants that Greece has been carrying out pushbacks — the illegal summary deportation of migrants without allowing them to apply for asylum — are nothing new, on land or at sea. But it is rare for such cases to involve anyone managing to stay behind.
Greece vehemently denies the claims, but says it has an obligation to protect its borders, which are also the European Union’s external borders. It points to March 2020, when Turkey opened its borders into the EU and actively encouraged migrants to cross into Greece.
Zaga says she arrived on Samos on April 21 in a dinghy crammed with people. After making landfall, the group scrambled up a wooded hill, splitting up to avoid detection by authorities.
“We were terrified of being caught and being sent back to Turkey, especially after we crossed into the territorial waters of Greece,” Zaga told The Associated Press.
Before long, social media posts appeared. A local journalist posted about the migrants’ arrival. Other residents said they had seen them, or given them food or water.
But as the day progressed, the story changed. The journalist contacted authorities, and posted she was told the migrants were not new arrivals but residents of a refugee camp on the outskirts of Vathy making a day trip — a roughly 31-mile hike over mountains.
Several residents told the AP they were told by authorities and others not to speak of what they had seen. They spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they didn’t want problems.
The next day, a piece of the dinghy the migrants arrived in still lay on the beach of Marathokampos Bay. The rights group Aegean Boat Report, which monitors arrivals on Greek islands, posted photos of the new arrivals. Some showed Zaga and her children with others on a wooded hillside, the Marathokampos coastline in the background.
Asked about the case, Greece’s Shipping Ministry, under whose jurisdiction the coast guard falls, said it had no record of an April 21 arrival on Samos.
Convention circuit of delusion gives forum for election lies
NEW RICHMOND, Wis. — For a few hours last weekend, thousands of Donald Trump’s supporters came together in a field under the blazing Wisconsin sun to live in an alternate reality where the former president was still in office — or would soon return.
Clad in red MAGA hats and holding “Trump 2021” signs, they cheered in approval as Mike Lindell, the MyPillow creator-turned-conspiracy peddler, introduced “our real president.” Then Trump appeared via Jumbotron to repeat the lie that has become his central talking point since losing to Joe Biden by more than 7 million votes: “The election was rigged.”
Lindell later promised the audience that Trump would soon be reinstated into the presidency, a prospect for which there is no legal or constitutional method.
In the nearly five months since Trump’s presidency ended, similar scenes have unfolded in hotel ballrooms and other venues across the country. Attorney Lin Wood has told crowds that Trump is still president, while former national security adviser Michael Flynn went even further at a Dallas event by calling for a Myanmar-style military coup in the U.S. At the same conference, former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell suggested Trump could simply be reinstated and a new Inauguration Day set.
Taken together, the gatherings have gelled into a convention circuit of delusion centered on the false premise that the election was stolen. Lindell and others use the events to deepen their bond with legions of followers who eschew the mainstream press and live within a conservative echo chamber of talk radio and social media. In these forums, “evidence” of fraud is never fact-checked, leaving many followers genuinely convinced that Biden shouldn’t be president.
“We know that Biden’s a fraudulent president, and we want to be part of the movement to get him out,” said Donna Plechacek, 61, who traveled from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, with her sister for the event. “I know that they cheated the election. I have no doubt about that. The proof is there.”
State election officials, international observers, Trump’s own attorney general and dozens of judges — including many Trump appointed — have found no verifiable evidence of mass election fraud. Indeed, Trump’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency called the election “the most secure in American history” and concluded there was “no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”
But Plechacek is not alone. A recent Quinnipiac University poll found that two-thirds of Republicans, 66%, think Biden’s victory was not legitimate, while CNN found in April that 70% of Republicans do not think Biden won enough votes to be president. Half, 50%, said there is solid evidence to support that claim.
They are people like Deb Tulenchik and Galen Carlson from Pequot Lakes, Minnesota, who recalled the shock they felt after the election as Trump’s early election night lead faded as additional ballots were counted.
Thanks to the country’s polarization, many Trump supporters didn’t know anyone who voted for Biden and only saw Trump-Pence signs lining the roadways as they drove around their neighborhoods. Carlson, 61, said he went to bed believing Trump won. He didn’t heed warnings that mail-in votes take longer to count, so early returns would likely skew toward Trump, who urged his supporters to vote in person and not by mail.
“I was asleep early cause it looked like it was going to be a done deal. And then when we woke up I couldn’t believe it,” he said.
“Disbelief,” echoed Tulenchik, 63.
Trump spent months girding himself against possible defeat, insisting he could only lose if there was massive fraud. It’s a lie he’s sure to repeat as he steps up his public schedule in the coming weeks.
But the narrative was already resonating under the beating sun at the Wisconsin MAGA rally, where attendees came decked out in Trump gear, including plenty of shirts declaring, “Trump Won!”
While Lindell repeatedly described the event as a free speech festival — paid for by him — it had all the trappings of a Trump rally, including several of his frequent warm-up acts and a large American flag hoisted up by cranes.
It was a carnival atmosphere: a face-painting tent for kids; stands selling corndogs, fresh-cut fries and ice cream; a flyover of old military planes. The 2020 campaign lived on, with vendors selling old campaign merchandise — along with Lindell’s pillows. One older man with a cane walked around shirtless, wearing a sparkly cowboy hat and Crocs and using a Trump flag as a cape. One young woman carried a helmet with horns — reminiscent of the headgear worn by an Arizona man who calls himself the QAnon Shaman and who took part in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Indeed, several people said they were at the U.S. Capitol that day, though they were vague on their roles.
While some were Trump rally devotees, traveling the country to see the former president in person, many said they were attending their first political event. Some said they paid little attention to politics until the election, or began to get involved because they opposed pandemic restrictions.
Again and again, attendees insisted Trump won the election. And several said they sincerely believed that he will be reinstated in the coming months — a belief that has been pushed by Lindell and repeated privately by Trump, even though there is no legal framework under which that could be accomplished.
“Not all Democrats are evil. They will see the truth. Whether they like it or not, they will see the truth,” said Beth Kroeger, 61, who lives in Sussex, Wisconsin, and said she expects Trump back in the Oval Office this time next year, “No doubt about it.”
Some suggested the military would be involved; others are convinced he remains in control today.
Most assailed the mainstream media and said they instead got their news from people like Lindell and former Trump strategist Steve Bannon, as well as the conservative channel Newsmax, talk radio and social media platforms.
Few have gone to greater lengths than Lindell to convince the American public the election was stolen. By his own account, he has spent millions of dollars staging election-related events, hiring private investigators and creating movies that purport to document the alleged fraud — not to mention the $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit that has been filed against him by Dominion Voting Systems. (He has counter-sued.)
He now claims he has evidence that China and other countries hacked voting machines to switch votes from Trump, a Republican, to Biden, a Democrat, in “a cyberattack of historical proportions.” But the evidence he cites in his most recent film, which features a blurred-out, anonymous cyber expert, has been repeatedly debunked for not demonstrating what he claims.
Still, attendees repeatedly referenced his videos as clear proof of fraud.
“There’s just so much evidence that Mike Lindell has,” said Lynda Thibado, 65, who traveled with her husband, Don Briggs, from Menomonie, Wisconsin, by camper and stayed overnight at an adjacent campground.
“I mean, such proof positive,” Briggs agreed.
The couple said they hoped the election would be overturned, but they were less confident that would happen.
“I don’t know if they can legally do anything now,” said Briggs. Still, he said, “I don’t think Biden will be the president come 2024, one way or the other.”
AP-NORC poll: Many Americans resuming pre-virus activities
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Many Americans are relaxing precautions taken during the COVID-19 pandemic and resuming everyday activities, even as some worry that coronavirus-related restrictions were hastily lifted, a new poll shows.
The poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that majorities of Americans who were regularly doing so before the pandemic say they are returning to bars or restaurants, traveling and attending events such as movies or sports.
Just 21% are very or extremely worried about a COVID-19 infection in their inner circle — the lowest level since the pandemic began — and only 25% are highly concerned that the lifted restrictions will lead to additional people being infected in their community.
Andrea Moran, a 36-year-old freelance writer and mother of two boys, said she feels both relief and joy at the chance to resume “doing the little things,” such as having drinks on a restaurant patio with her husband.
“Honestly, I almost cried,” Moran said. “It’s such a feeling of having been through the wringer, and we’re finally starting to come out of it.”
Still, 34% of Americans think restrictions in their area have been lifted too quickly, while somewhat fewer — 27% — say they were not lifted quickly enough. About 4 in 10 rate the pace of reopening about right.
The way Americans approached their daily lives suddenly changed after COVID-19 spread through the U.S. in early 2020. Following the advice of health officials and governments, people isolated in their homes — either alone or with families — to avoid exposure to the virus, which has sickened more than 33 million people and killed 600,000 people in the U.S.
During the height of the pandemic, restaurants, movie theaters and stores either closed or continued operating with limited occupancy; church services, schools and government meetings went virtual; and many employers made working from home an option or a requirement. Mask wearing in public became the norm in most places, with some states and cities making it mandatory.
The emergence of the vaccine has helped slow down rates of infection and death, allowing state and local economies to reopen and leading Americans to return to activities they once enjoyed.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised last month that vaccinated Americans don’t have to wear a mask in most scenarios, indoors or out. The latest CDC data shows 53% of all Americans — 65% of those 18 and older — have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
According to the AP-NORC poll, American adults who have not yet rolled up their sleeves for the shot remain hesitant to do so. Just 7% of those who have not been vaccinated say they definitely will get a COVID-19 vaccine, and 15% say they probably will.
Forty-six percent of Americans who have not been vaccinated say they will definitely not get a vaccine, and 29% say they probably will not. Young adults, Americans without a college degree, white evangelicals, rural Americans and Republicans are most hesitant to get vaccinated.
The poll finds many Americans are still wearing masks and taking precautions to avoid contact with other people, but the percentage of those doing so is down significantly from just a few months ago.
In late February, 65% said they were always wearing a mask around people outside their households. Now, just 37% say so, though 19% say they often wear one.
Forty percent of Americans say they are extremely or very likely to wear a mask when participating in indoor activities outside their homes, while just 28% say the same about outdoor activities.
Aaron Siever, 36, of New Market, Virginia, said he and his wife have consistently worn masks and taken other precautions, including getting vaccinated. But Siever said virus-related restrictions were not lifted quickly enough, lamenting that some precautions were politicized and caused an “inherent panic.”
“I think with masks being worn and people getting vaccinated, I think we could have opened a little earlier,” said Siever, who maintains the grounds of Civil War battlefields in Virginia. “We started focusing on the politics of reopening, rather than the health.”
Now that most states have lifted restrictions, the poll finds about two-thirds of Americans who used to travel at least monthly say they will do so in the next few weeks. About three-quarters of frequent restaurant or bar-goers before the pandemic say they will now return. A year ago, only about half said they would travel or go to restaurants if they could.
Likewise, more are returning to activities such as visiting friends and family, seeing movies or concerts, attending sporting events and shopping in-person for nonessential items.
In Cookeville, Tennessee, Moran said her family still regularly wears masks in public, especially when they are indoors or around a lot of people. Both she and her husband have been vaccinated. Moran said she has eaten at outdoor restaurants, but she is avoiding indoor dining.
“Even if the air conditioning circulation is good, I just don’t feel comfortable right now going inside, where there’s a lot of people in fairly close proximity who I don’t know,” Moran said.
Moran said her family avoided nonessential travel during the height of the pandemic, canceling a trip to see her brother in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. But last weekend, the family traveled for the first time in more than a year — a roughly 3 1/2-hour road trip to Asheville, North Carolina, to visit a childhood friend.
“I felt a little bit nervous just because being around people is such a surreal thing after so long,” Moran said. “I was really excited and I was thrilled for my kids that they were able to get out and get back to some semblance of normality.”
Fingerhut reported from Washington.
The AP-NORC poll of 1,125 adults was conducted June 10-14 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.2 points.
Father gives daughter life-saving gift
CARRIERE, Miss. — Sitting poolside with his wife and two daughters, Rhett Shaffette says he’s already received the best gift this Father’s Day.
His 12-year-old daughter is thriving, eight months after getting a portion of his liver. She received the transplant after nearly losing her life to internal bleeding.
“It was a very close call,” Rhett said. His daughter Cecilia, 11 at the time, had spent years in frustration on the transplant list, and was twice called to be a back-up recipient, only to be sent home again in disappointment.
After Cecilia’s near-fatal bleed last year, the family decided to look instead for a partial transplant from a living donor.
And they didn’t have to look far: Tests and scans revealed that Rhett’s liver was an ideal match. A few weeks later, both were prepped for surgery.
“It was a godsend,” Rhett said. “That’s the only way to explain it.”
Cecilia had been suffering since birth with biliary atresia. That’s when bile ducts in the liver don’t form normally, preventing the organ from functioning properly. It’s one of the most common reasons why children in the U.S. require liver transplants, said John Seal, one of the surgeons on the family’s transplant team at Ochsner Hospital for Children in New Orleans.
Having a biological parent as a living donor helps with immunity and lowers the chance of organ rejection. But some kids awaiting transplants are in foster care or situations where a biological parent isn’t available or willing to donate. So now there’s a movement among pediatric surgeons and programs across the country to push for more anonymous living donors, Seal said.
Organs from living donors have been found to be superior in quality to those harvested from deceased donors, he said. And because the liver regenerates quickly, children and small adults typically only need a part of a healthy donor’s liver. Both patients can typically expect their livers to return to normal size within a few months to a year, Seal said.
“No kid should die waiting for a liver,” he said. “The biggest risk is that time waiting for an organ, and that wait time is getting longer and longer throughout the country.”
Living donors made possible 491 of the 8,906 liver transplants performed in the United States last year, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, the nonprofit that administers the nation’s procurement and transplant process.
More than 500 of last year’s liver transplants were performed on children, but only 66 were from living donors. And of those, only 22 donors were the child’s biological parent, according to UNOS.
“We still don’t have enough quality donors to take care of all the kids on the wait list,” Seal said.
More than 300 children remain on the waiting list for a liver transplant in the U.S., along with more than 11,500 adults, according to UNOS..
Cecilia’s mother, Angelle, described transplant day as long, exhausting, stressful, emotional, but in the end, worth it.
Eight months later, Rhett says he’s feeling great, is back at work and enjoying his favorite pastimes, hunting and fishing. He said he’s “anxious to see her be all that she can be, now that nothing’s holding her back.”
He and Angelle smiled and giggled while watching Cecilia, now 12, play a game of tag on hoverboards with her little sister, Lydia.
The girls also practiced some dance moves, with Cecilia showing off her leaps and twirls.
Before the transplant, this much activity would have fatigued and stressed her body, at times causing pain, discomfort or illness.
“I have a lot more energy, and I don’t feel bad a lot,” Cecilia said. She said it’s been five months since her last trip to the hospital.
“I just feel better overall,” she said.
The director of Juneteenth Oregon on why the national holiday matters
Eyeing One Big Economic Bill, Democrats Face Myriad Challenges
With bipartisan infrastructure talks coalescing around a plan that omits many of their top priorities, Democrats are vowing to push through their own package. It won’t be easy.
With Vaccination Goal in Doubt, Biden Warns of Variant’s Threat
Speaking at the White House, the president did not mention his goal of getting 70 percent of adults partly vaccinated by July 4 but trumpeted a different milestone: 300 million shots in his first 150 days in office.