'When does this stop?' For 2023, an alarmingly bloody start
In a country with more guns than people — and one emerging from three years of isolation, stress and infighting amid the pandemic — Americans are beginning 2023 with a steady barrage of mass slaughter.
Eleven people killed as they welcomed the Lunar New Year at a dance hall popular with older Asian Americans. A teen mother and her baby shot in the head in an attack that killed five generations. A 6-year-old shooting his first-grade teacher in the classroom. The list goes on.
“We’ve been through so much in these past few years, and to continue to see case after case of mass violence in the media is just overwhelming,” said Apryl Alexander, an associate professor of public health at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. “When does this stop?”
The carnage over eight days in California, where the dance hall victims Saturday night were among two dozen people killed in three recent attacks, brought painful reminders to families of last year’s school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. On Tuesday, several Uvalde families and parents traveled more than three hours to their state's Capitol to renew calls for tighter gun laws, even if they have little chance of winning over the Republican-controlled Legislature.
In 2022, the United States marked its first deadly gun rampage of the year on Jan. 23 — a year ago Monday. By that same date this year, six mass killings have claimed 39 lives, according to a database of mass killings maintained by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University.
Suspect in shootings at Half Moon Bay farms was employee
HALF MOON BAY, Calif. (AP) — A farmworker killed seven people in back-to-back shootings in a case of “workplace violence” at two Northern California mushroom farms, officials said Tuesday as the state mourned its third mass killing in just over a week.
Chunli Zhao, 66, was booked on suspicion of seven counts of murder and one count of attempted murder, jail records showed. He was being held without bail and scheduled for a Wednesday court appearance.
Authorities believe Zhao acted alone when he entered a mushroom farm in Half Moon Bay, California, and opened fire, killing four and leaving another seriously wounded, San Mateo County Sheriff's officials said. He then drove to another nearby farm where he had previously worked, and killed another three people, said Eamonn Allen, a sheriff's spokesman.
Officials have not yet released the names of the five men and two women who died, nor the one man who was injured. Some were Asian and others were Hispanic, and some were migrant workers.
Servando Martinez Jimenez said his brother Marciano Martinez Jimenez, who was a delivery person and manager at one of the farms, was among those killed. Servando Martinez Jimenez said his brother never mentioned Zhao or said anything about problems with other workers.
Classified records pose conundrum stretching back to Carter
WASHINGTON (AP) — At least three presidents. A vice president, a secretary of state, an attorney general. The mishandling of classified documents is not a problem unique to President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.
The matter of classified records and who, exactly, has hung onto them got more complicated Tuesday as news surfaced that former Vice President Mike Pence also had such records in his possession after he left office. Like Biden, Pence willingly turned them over to authorities after they were discovered during a search he requested, according to his lawyer and aides.
The revelations have thrust the issue of proper handling of documents — an otherwise low-key Washington process — into the middle of political discourse and laid bare an uncomfortable truth: Policies meant to control the handling of the nation's secrets are haphazardly enforced among top officials and rely almost wholly on good faith.
It’s been a problem off and on for decades, from presidents to Cabinet members and staff across multiple administrations stretching as far back as Jimmy Carter. The issue has taken on greater significance since Trump willfully retained classified material at his Florida estate, prompting the unprecedented FBI seizure of thousands of pages of records last year.
It turns out former officials from all levels of government discover they are in possession of classified material and turn them over to the authorities at least several times a year, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of classified documents.
In reversal, US poised to approve Abrams tanks for Ukraine
WASHINGTON (AP) — In what would be a reversal, the Biden administration is poised to approve sending M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, U.S. officials said Tuesday, as international reluctance to send tanks to the battlefront against the Russians begins to erode. A decision to send a bit more than 30 tanks could be announced as soon as Wednesday, though it could take months for the tanks to be delivered.
U.S. officials said details are still being worked out. One official said the tanks would be bought under an upcoming Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative package, which provides longer-range funding for weapons and equipment to be purchased from commercial vendors.
The U.S. announcement is expected in coordination with an announcement by Germany that it will approve Poland’s request to transfer German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, according to one official. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision has not yet been made public.
By agreeing to send the Abrams at an as-yet unspecified time under the assistance initiative, the administration is able to meet German Chancellor Olaf Scholz's demand for an American commitment without having to send the tanks immediately.
Much of the aid sent so far in the 11-month-old war has been through a separate program drawing on Pentagon stocks to get weapons more quickly to Ukraine. But even under that program, it would take months to get tanks to Ukraine and to get Ukrainian forces trained on them. It wasn't clear Tuesday how soon the U.S. will start training Ukrainian troops on the Abrams and roughly how soon they can get to the battlefront.
Proud Boys expecting 'civil war' before Jan. 6, witness says
WASHINGTON (AP) — The month before the riot at the U.S. Capitol, members of the Proud Boys were growing increasingly angry about the outcome of the 2020 election and were expecting a “civil war,” a former member told jurors on Tuesday as he took the stand in the seditious conspiracy case against the group's former leader.
Matthew Greene testified in the case against former Proud Boys national chairman Enrique Tarrio and four lieutenants under a cooperation deal with the government after pleading guilty to storming the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, with fellow extremists.
Greene told jurors that the Proud Boys' conversations became more heated as December 2020 wore on and challenges to President Donald Trump's election loss were unsuccessful. The Proud Boys were getting “ready and willing for anything that was going to happen,” Greene said, adding that the group saw itself as “essentially the tip of the spear.”
“We were openly expecting a civil war at that point,” Greene said.
Greene is the first Proud Boys cooperator to take the stand in the case accusing Tarrio and associates of plotting to forcibly stop the transfer of power from Trump to President Joe Biden. He was the first Proud Boys member in December 2021 to publicly plead guilty to conspiring with others to stop Congress from certifying the Electoral College vote. He's cooperating with prosecutors in the hopes of getting a lighter sentence.
Hawaii man imprisoned for 1991 murder, rape released
HONOLULU (AP) — A judge on Tuesday ordered a man released from prison immediately after his attorneys presented new evidence and argued that he didn’t commit the crimes he was convicted of and spent more than 20 years locked up for: the 1991 murder, kidnapping and sexual assault of a woman visiting Hawaii.
Albert “Ian” Schweitzer, who was convicted in 2000 and sentenced to 130 years in prison, should be “released from his shackles immediately,” Judge Peter Kubota ruled.
That prompted applause in the Hilo courtroom and hugs for Schweitzer, who was flown to the Big Island for the hearing from the Arizona prison where he was serving his sentence.
"My feelings were all over the place," Schweitzer told the AP during a phone interview in recalling the moment of his release. “Nerves, anxiety, scared.”
The justice system is “flawed,” he said, calling himself one of many imprisoned for crimes they didn't commit. He earlier told reporters that he was “grateful” for the judge doing the “honorable thing."
Senators grill Ticketmaster after Taylor Swift fiasco
Senators grilled Ticketmaster Tuesday, questioning whether the company’s dominance in the ticketing industry led to its spectacular breakdown last year during a sale of Taylor Swift concert tickets.
Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee also debated possible action, including making tickets non-transferable to cut down on scalping and requiring more transparency in ticket fees. Some suggested it may also be necessary to split Ticketmaster and Beverly Hills, California-based concert promoter Live Nation, which merged in 2010.
“The fact of the matter is, Live Nation/Ticketmaster is the 800-pound gorilla here," said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat. “This whole concert ticket system is a mess, a monopolistic mess.”
Ticketmaster is the world’s largest ticket seller, processing 500 million tickets each year in more than 30 countries. Around 70% of tickets for major concert venues in the U.S. are sold through Ticketmaster, according to data in a federal lawsuit filed by consumers last year.
In mid-November, Ticketmaster’s site crashed during a presale event for Swift’s upcoming stadium tour. The company said its site was overwhelmed by both fans and attacks from bots, which were posing as consumers in order to scoop up tickets and sell them on secondary sites. Thousands of people lost tickets after waiting for hours in an online queue.
Rights groups dismayed at lack of criticism for Peru abuses
LIMA, Peru (AP) — More than 50 people have died in ongoing street protests in the weeks since Peru's elected leader was jailed, mostly demonstrators at the hands of police officers, but only a few international voices of concern have emerged.
The relative silence of much of the regional and global community has dismayed human rights advocates, who are calling for condemnation of the state violence unleashed since Pedro Castillo was impeached and imprisoned for trying to dissolve Congress.
Tuesday was another day of fury in Peru's capital as thousands of protesters took to downtown Lima and were almost immediately met with volleys of tears gas amid clashes with security forces that often blocked their passage. It was the largest antigovernment protest since Thursday, when large groups of people, many from remote Andean regions, descended on the capital to demand Boluarte’s resignation, immediate elections and the dissolution of Congress.
Previously, most of the large antigovernment protests were in remote regions of Peru, exposing deep divisions between residents of the capital and the long-neglected countryside.
On Tuesday, police often fired round after round of tear gas as the protesters seemed more organized than before and small groups of people tossed canisters back at police although that was not enough to stop their advance. The smell of tear gas permeated the air.
Scott Rolen elected to Baseball Hall of Fame
NEW YORK (AP) — Scott Rolen sat with his son in the parking lot outside Indiana's Bloomington South High School in 2018, waiting to coach grade schoolers in basketball and listening on the radio for results of his first appearance on baseball's Hall of Fame ballot.
“`Dad, I think you're getting in,'” Rolen recalled 10-year-old Finn predicting.
Rolen received 10.2% of the vote, double the 5% minimum to remain on the ballot the following year but far short of the 75% needed for election.
“`Did we win?'” dad remembered his son asking. “I said, `Oh, we won. Yes, we won.'”
Rolen came a long way in a few short years and was elected to the Hall on his sixth try Tuesday, the slick-fielding third baseman achieving baseball's highest honor with five votes to spare.
'Everything Everywhere' tops Oscar nominations with 11
NEW YORK (AP) — The multiverse-skipping sci-fi indie hit “Everything Everywhere All at Once” led nominations to the 95th Academy Awards as Hollywood heaped honors on big-screen spectacles like “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Avatar: The Way of Water” a year after a streaming service won best picture for the first time.
Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan’s “Everything Everywhere All at Once” landed a leading 11 nominations on Tuesday, including nods for Michelle Yeoh and comeback kid Ke Huy Quan, the former child star of “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” Released back in March, the A24 film has proven an unlikely Oscar heavyweight against the expectations of even its makers. Yeoh became the first Asian actor nominated for best actress.
"Even just to be nominated means validation, love, from your peers," said an “overwhelmed” Yeoh speaking by phone from London. “What it means for the rest of the Asians around the world, not just in America but globally, is to say we have a seat at the table. We finally have a seat at the table. We are being recognized and being seen."
The 10 movies up for best picture are: “Everything Everywhere All at Once,”“The Banshees of Inisherin,” “The Fabelmans,” “Tár,” “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Avatar: The Way of Water,” “Elvis,” “All Quiet on the Western Front,” “Women Talking” and “Triangle of Sadness.”
Nominations were announced Tuesday from the academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, California, by Riz Ahmed and Allison Williams. If last year’s Oscars were dominated by streaming — Apple TV+’s “CODA” won best picture and Netflix landed a leading 27 nominations — movies that drew moviegoers to multiplexes after two years of pandemic make up many of this year’s top contenders.